Why project management learning is flawed

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Children are our future, we have heard it seen it written and spoken it so many times.

Yet in another breath I am being told that children are not clever enough to understand project management as it is such a technical skill. So when did organisational skills, personal skills and common sense become technical skills?

I decided when I looked into educating children with the skills of project management that what we were looking at was more about how they do things than actually what they do. Surely it is more important to understand that not all children are academically minded but this should not exclude them from learning the skills that can help them develop behaviours and social skills for the future.

This is where the development of the Living Learning for Children came from. Having developed something very similar in March 2010 for adult learning I then looked into how this should and could be adapted for children. Within the global community we now have more qualified Project Managers than ever before. With this fact, surely projects should now be booming and the success criteria to which they are measured are now being met with consummate ease.  However this is not the case and so training alone has shown that this is not improving the standard of Project Management or project managers.

Therefore, I went back to school.

Armed with this information, I looked to the future and asked a simple question, how do we best learn and why has learning changed so much over the past ten years?

The solution to the project management problem is simple, note I said simple, it’s just not easy.

The thing that needs to be done is to identify a calm simplified approach to the solution, set your vision in place of what has to be achieved and then believe it will work. Having people with a competency not just an ability to pass examinations is essential to making the project management community grow and to demonstrate to other industries that project management is not simply another task that they can do on top of IT or engineering, but is in actual fact, its own discipline and a career for future generations.

To show this we developed a learning programme that introduced the topics of project management to the children but instead of looking to pass a test at the end of each of the sessions, we broke this down into practical and team learning. There is a shortage of team learning in both the schools and work places, instead aiming at leadership and strategy training or individuals, yet we are expected to work together.

My focus around the activities involved in the learning programme was to add a new part to the learning equation, the Living Learning for Children approach should also be about cultural and behavioural changes that make us different and yet the same. I believe that the Living Learning for Children approach should provide this for all its attendees and that then will over time, become the normal way of working globally. By creating an environment that understands what makes a good project manager and then nurturing those personal skills and enhancing the individuals has to be the way ahead for an improved future for behaviours, mannerisms and industry. It is time that the entire project community starts to make a real difference by working together to truly understand the DNA of a good project manager. Whatever it takes to achieve such a task, that time to start is now.

If you are looking for history to tell you that anything is possible, I remember the quote made when Barack Obama first ran for office, “We need to change, so can we do it, yes we can!”

So rather than just teaching our children about what is possible and what things should be, perhaps we should take a back seat and listen. We can learn just as much from listening to the future generation and we can by simply telling them. The moment we believe we cannot learn from others, no matter their background or age, then the project community ceases to grow.

So, when the industry looks to improve and we are talking about needing project managers for the future, where would you start to look?


Posted by Mark Reeson on 21st May 2015

About the Author

Mark Reeson is a International Strategic Project Management Advisor for M R Project Solutions Limited, a member of the APM Sustainability in Project Management Community Group and an Ambassador for the APM in delivering the STEM programme with his Project Management for Children approach, which he started in February 2012, (SMART Project Management). He is currently working on a project in Dammam, KSA, where he is delivering a sustainable PMO solution for the Municipality as part of his SMART Vision integrating it with the Saudi Vision 203.  When he is not in the Kingdom, Mark continues to deliver as an accredited trainer providing services to clients for the PFQ, PMQ and RPP qualifications and accreditations in addition to him SMART programme to promote sustainability within project, supply chain and event management throughout the world.

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