This article reviews international development management (DM) from a Northern (primarily though not exclusively US-based) perspective, identifies lessons learned from experience, and discusses new challenges. The primary data sources are an on-line survey of DM scholars and practitioners, and the results of a focus group discussion. Survey respondents expressed dismay that the lessons from theory and experience have failed to penetrate the world of practice (largely due to political and bureaucratic constraints). They were generally pessimistic about DM's relevance and effectiveness in the face of new challenges. Our analysis points to implications for DM as a discipline, and examines the development manager as activist, the evolution of politics within DM, and DM as an art. Identified lessons related predominantly to DM's process and values dimensions, suggesting these may best define DM's unique contours. In response to the perceived absence of learning and to new challenges, research participants issued a call for development manager activism to speak truth to power, promote DM values, educate new actors and the public, and mentor and train newcomers to the field. This study underscores Northern-based development managers' commitment to the profession, including affirmation of the ongoing utility and relevance of DM's knowledge and lessons, and its underlying values of self-determination, social equity, and empowerment. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.