That’s not project management!

This was the cry from a delegate on one of my recent courses when we were looking at time management apps.
Good point well made, or purist nit-picking? After all, where does project management stop and time management begin – or even leadership or negotiation skills, for that matter?
Project management has its own definition – but great project management goes beyond a simple set of processes. At its most smooth, inspiring and effective, great project management binds together a potent mix of management behaviours and skills.

On every course I deliver, I step outside what the purists may call ‘true’ project management. It’s what I love most about project management training – because it’s the skills just beyond project management that make it work so well.

Project management, as we live and breathe

Every single delegate who attends my courses will be engaged in a current piece of work, so it goes without saying that they will be facing challenges, and looking for help with them.
Invariably, these challenges will never be solved without also looking at communication skills, team leadership, stakeholder management, change management and influencing skills – I could go on!
It is therefore neither possible, nor right or proper, that I should draw a line around the skills and tools delivered during the course if the training is going to help with such live project management challenges.
To be successful, project management processes totally depend on these other skills, and cannot be considered in isolation. Furthermore, the way you apply it depends on the environment you’re working in.

A blend of skills

Here is a summary of a discussion at one of my courses this week about the problems arising after a Project Kick Off template had been handed out to review and discuss.
Tracey said: “I absolutely see how this can help to more clearly define the requirements of the project. But how do I get other members of my team to use it?”
“You just tell them that this is the new process and they have to complete this form in order to get access to the funds they require for their project,” replied Andrew
“Yes,” added Holly. “Just make it a prerequisite of any project that this form has to be signed off.”
I listened to this discussion, interested to see what options were given. Once the delegates had put forward their thoughts, I made my own contribution: “If your work environment means it is not appropriate to enforce the use of the form in this way, you could first offer to help colleagues think through the requirements of their project. Then use the form to note down the key points discussed. In this way, the form will become a useful addition to your tools rather than a policed requirement.”

But did this discussion among my delegates have anything to do with project management? Or was it an exercise in influencing skills?

So I ask again – where does project management end and generic management skills begin?

If you like the sound of my approach to project management training give me a call on 07976 395754 to have a chat about your projects.