Are the soft skills too soft?

Save for later

Favourite

Every few months the soft versus hard skills debate resurrects in the pages of Project magazine. The debate is well rehearsed the hard technical skills are too mechanistic and prescriptive, the soft management skills too woolly and imprecise.

In reality, like all good debates, the resolution is somewhere between the two extremes. Its certainly the thinking behind the new route to APMP for PRINCE2 Registered Practitioners, where a method of project management meets with the skills of the profession.

The subject was the centre of a challenge made during the first round of consultation on the new Body of Knowledge. How can there be a section called People when every project has people in it? Its such a generic term that it becomes almost meaningless.

The simple answer is to provide clarity by being consistent with the APM People Specific Interest Group working on this section of the new edition.

However, its a challenge well made. Have you ever had a project that doesnt have people in it? Can you name a single time that a decision was made without people involved and impacting nobody? Arent people, like oxygen, one of the universals of life?

Ben Goldacre, in his book Bad Science, criticises the marketing of pharmaceutical products for filling gaps in our understanding with bogus pseudo-scientific jargon. In reality, he argues, science is a systematic process of trial and error. There are big gaps in our understanding of the world, for example, doctors dont know how anaesthetics work, they just know, precisely, that they do.

He argues that we shouldnt create bogus-scientific answers to questions just because we crave the assurance it offers. This is where the debate over soft versus hard skills is possibly irresolvable using its current terms of reference. Were trying to prove the benefit of soft skills with hard statistics.

However, just because soft skills are harder to measure and replicate precisely makes them no less important. We have all benefited from good leadership over bad leadership, good communication over bad communication. Perhaps we need think differently and stop using hard skills measurements to assess the success and need for good soft skills.

Posted in Governance
default

Posted by Scott Walkinshaw on 17th Sep 2010

About the Author
Scott is Head of Marketing and Communications at APM.

Comments on this site are moderated. Please allow up to 24 hours for your comment to be published on this site. Thank you for adding your comment.
{{comments.length}}CommentComments
{{item.AuthorName}}

{{item.AuthorName}} {{item.AuthorName}} says on {{item.DateFormattedString}}:

Share this page

Login or Register to leave a comment:

Recommended blogs

What is digital transformation anyway?

11 August 2017

‘Digital Transformation’ in essence is a movement encapsulating the rapid and pervasive discussion and adoption of technology inside organisations. It is being used to describe existing processes, procedures, operating models and organisational structures in a new world delivered by the aid of technology.

Save for later

Favourite

Team dimensions

4 October 2016

Save for later

Favourite

Recommended news

Save for later

Favourite

Join APM

Sign up to the APM Newsletter.