Process and Project Management Terminology - a Common Language OR an Obstacle?

Posted by Deniz A. Johnson, MBA

on 8 September 2014

A while ago, a colleague and I were talking about a case where he could not mention the word “project management” since it was eliciting too much negative reaction.  I shared my experience that in one instance I could not use the word “process” since its use internally was synonymous with control and bottleneck.

In both cases, these were small companies that grew fast and really needed some “things” in place to manage their workload in a scalable and consistent fashion.  Scalability meant these “things” would bring a way of doing their work, a way of prioritizing their work.  Consistency meant these “things” provided an actionable set of tasks and approach to their commitments. Yet we both joked that we cannot actually say “project management” or “process management” due to the allergic reaction we were seeing.

So what do we do:

Option 1 – change/replace the words used : Project Management= “THING” and Process Management= “Whatchamacallit”

Option 2 – Educate the teams we work with that Project Management as a skill set (initially) and then as a discipline and Process Management as a scalability tool.

Option 3 – Reality – Be aware of the sensitivity/baggage each term has, understand the associations related to each term, avoid using these terms until you can address the underlying associations, but recommend and implement changes that bring value.

The motto is: Keep it simple, Keep it relevant, Keep it actionable – This will bring value.  Once you start showing value, educate with the correct terminology.