Anticipation: The Greatest Project Management Skill
In the last issue of this newsletter we discussed “anticipation” as the greatest project management skill. We defined anticipation as the ability to predict the uncertain situations and circumstances that often face project managers. It can really be summed up with one simple phrase.
TOP (Training, Observation, Practice)
The combination of these three activities aggressively deployed provides the ability to anticipate and the confidence to act.
– There are always rare exceptions, like someone born with a gift that can play the piano masterfully without training. As a rule though, expertise and even basic proficiency cannot be achieved without training. If it wasn’t so prevalent and sad, the number of companies that expect their project managers to be successful without training would be amusing.
Do you know any project management quacks (PMQ's)?
Would you go to a medical doctor who had no formal training but said “I have been doctoring on people for 15 years”. Most would quickly identify this doctor as a quack. There are a lot of project management quacks out there. The doctor without training may indeed be able to practice medicine with minor or perhaps moderate success but certainly not at the level of someone that is a trained physician. What would you think of the football coach who told his team we’ll learn as the game goes along because we don’t have the time or budget for training?
Part of what makes Tiger Woods the golf champion that he is, was training from an early age. In the absence of that training he would not have been a child prodigy or dominating golf as he does today. In fact, he still values training and still submits himself (even at his level of expertise and accomplishment) to coaching. I am always amazed when I come across project managers who don’t feel the need for training. Projects involve lots of variables including technology, resources and the most complex variable of all – people. Project management is so complex it is worthy of life long study if you choose to excel at it. There is a marked difference between proficiency and excellence.
A PMP doesn’t make you or anyone else a good project manager!
Yes, the basics are easily acquired. PMP certification is in fact readily acquired with effort. A PMP certification by itself does not make you a great project manager or even capable of managing a challenging project. Greatness in any endeavor is the application of the basics and the summation of a large number of little things done well. This is what characterizes the masters in any field of endeavor. When I go to training (and I do) I am looking for the little things that take the basics to another level.
Since my book, The Handbook of Program Management, is published, I am working on the next. The new book is tentatively titled “Hundreds of Real World Project Management Tips.” The book will be a compilation of tips (little things) from real project managers like you. You may have one or more tips that could apply. If so, please fax it to 321.577.0210 or email your tip email@example.com. In order for your tip to be used I will need your name and title to be included with the tip in the book. Additionally, I will need your contact information (email will suffice) to send a release before publication.
In the next issue of this newsletter, we will discuss the O and P of TOP (observation and practice) and their role in obtaining the greatest project management skill of anticipation.
Copyright SEBA® Solutions, Inc. 2007