PMI Standards Program Comment Form
An Error Was Introduced Into the Seventh Edition of 'A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)'
10 November 2021
🔥 Update on November 23, 2021: Project Management Institute staff confirmed that the error covered by this article will be corrected. See the end of this article for details.
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) is the Project Management Institute’s flagship publication and is a fundamental resource for effective project management in any industry. The book is the global, gold standard for project management.
The PMBOK Guide includes content on the group dynamics model (forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning) developed by Bruce Tuckman. The now-prior version of the standard (sixth edition—released on September 22, 2017) covered it correctly. But the new version of the standard (seventh edition—released on August 1, 2021) presents it incorrectly. The way I see it, multiple things must have all gone wrong for the error to be introduced to and kept in the new version of the standard. However, mistakes happen, and the Project Management Institute (PMI) has a process to handle such problems.
The PMI created a Standards Program Comment Form. If/when errors are discovered, the PMI instructs individuals to share findings by completing the form and emailing it to the PMI. The form will then be sent to the next team assigned to review and update the respective standard. The form has two main sections: Comment and Suggested Change. Here are some excerpts from what I provided to the PMI (shown in purple font).
Section 18.104.22.168 Tuckman Ladder includes: “Bruce Tuckman articulated the stages of team development as forming, storming, norming, and performing. Many people add a fifth stage, adjourning.”
The passage is misleading and incorrect. Here’s why. In 1965, Bruce Tuckman introduced his model inclusive of four stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing. (The source/citation: Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental Sequence in Small Groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63: 384-399.) However, Tuckman subsequently discovered adjourning to be so important that he updated his own model in 1977 to include adjourning. (The source/citation: Tuckman, B. W., & Jensen, M. A. C. (1977). Stages of Small-Group Development Revisited. Group and Organizational Studies, 2 (4): 419- 427.) Tuckman says there are five stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. By not including that relevant, informative, and helpful fact—and instead vaguely saying “Many people add a fifth stage, adjourning.”—the passage is misleading and incorrect.
For the reason detailed in the Comment section of this form, I suggest changing the passage from “Bruce Tuckman articulated the stages of team development as forming, storming, norming, and performing. Many people add a fifth stage, adjourning.” to:
“Bruce Tuckman articulated the stages of team development as forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.”
“Bruce Tuckman articulated the stages of team development as forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. He introduced the first four stages in 1965, and he added the fifth stage when he updated his model in 1977.”
I sent the Standards Program Comment Form to the PMI earlier this year.
About Scott M. Graffius
Scott M. Graffius, PMP, CSP-SM, CSP-PO, CSM, CSPO, SFE, ITIL, LSSGB is an agile project management practitioner, consultant, award-winning author, and international speaker. He has generated over 1.75 billion dollars of business value in aggregate for the organizations he has served. Graffius is the founder, CEO, and principal consultant at Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™ and subsidiary Exceptional Agility™, based in Los Angeles, California. His expertise spans project, program, portfolio, and PMO leadership inclusive of agile, traditional, and hybrid approaches. Content from his books (Agile Scrum and Agile Transformation), workshops, speaking engagements, and more have been featured and used by businesses, governments, and universities including Gartner, Microsoft, Deloitte, Oracle, Cisco, Ford, Qantas, Atlassian, Bayer, the National Academy of Sciences, the United States Department of Energy, the United States Army, Project Management Institute, the IEEE, the New Zealand Ministry of Education, Tufts University, Texas A&M University, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Warsaw University of Technology, University of Waterloo, Loughborough University London, and others. Graffius has spoken at 58 conferences and other events around the world, including Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States. Thinkers360 named Graffius a global top thought leader and influencer in four domains: Agile, Change Management, Digital Transformation, and GovTech.
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About the Project Management Institute
The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the world's leading professional association for a growing community of millions of project professionals and change-makers worldwide. As the leading authority on project management, the PMI empowers people to make ideas a reality. Through global advocacy, networking, collaboration, research, and education, the PMI helps prepare organizations and individuals to work smarter in a dynamic and rapidly changing world.
Building on a prominent legacy dating to 1969, the PMI is a “for-purpose” organization working in nearly every country around the world to advance careers, strengthen organizational success, and enable change-makers with new skills and ways of working to maximize their impact. The PMI provides global standards, certifications, online courses, thought leadership, tools, digital publications, communities, and more.
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Update on November 23, 2021
Project Management Institute staff updated me on November 23, 2021 that the error covered by this article will be corrected during the next print run of the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. The updated (corrected) content will read: "Bruce Tuckman articulated the stages of team development as forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning."
The short link for this article is: https://bit.ly/pmbk-7
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