Certification programs are more about demonstrating your competency than about learning how to manage. Consider this: PMP and IPMA certification takes you through a process guide and a comprehensive examination that you can easily enough learn in a few weeks. I always recommend learning the bodies of knowledge, so long as you are fully aware of what you’re getting… But be aware of what you are actually getting. Here are a few things that your certification program is definitely not going to teach you.
I’m frequently asked what I think of certifications such as the Project Management Institute’s PMP, or its other programs. The PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) represents a strong reference guide, and one that I turn to when appropriate as a process guide — but its very strength as a reference text also makes it a poor companion for someone looking for a comprehensive project management methodology. There’s a host of information you won’t get in school (not even from a top tier management school, let alone a certification program you can cram for in less than two weeks).
Most managers today have blinders on when it comes to solving the problems of complex projects: They are lost among the trees, and can’t see the forest for what it really is. Too many project managers are focused on the day-to-day problems of the project and have lost sight of their overall strategy. So, with KPMG telling us that nearly 70% of projects are failing to meet their goals, what’s the real solution? What’s the one thing that’s going to make the most difference?
When it comes to leadership development, you can’t “train the leader.” Leadership requires too much contextual differentiation, innovation, and innate skill. These are qualities that can be developed, but not absorbed from a training session.
Launching a global project presents many problems that are completely foreign to most project leaders and managers. Last month I pointed out that we have to deal with a lot more than language barriers with global projects. For example, in some cultures, speaking openly is not to be expected, in any setting. For this second installment, I thought I’d share a few concrete ideas for tackling some of these issues, things that can make a real difference and that are easy to put into play. To keep on a theme, I’ll focus on strategies to tackle the common, core issue raised in last month’s article: communication and execution problems. One of the first things I generally want to take a close look at are the techniques and processes used to manage a project. Most of the time, they are not adequate for one reason: They weren’t designed to support a global, multi-cultural organization.
Launching a global project presents many problems that are completely foreign to most project leaders and managers. Understanding the cultural differences, communication differences, and interpersonal relations of a global team is only the beginning. Business environment, local regulatory and compliance issues, and international laws scratch a bit deeper, but managing a global project is more complicated than most project managers anticipate.
You are leading a star project team working on a challenging project when you noticed a particular team member spreading negativity, rumors among peers. You are afraid this negative behavior will bring whole team’s morale down. What would you do in this situation? Every individual is different, and every situation is going to require a different response, but here are a few strategies that can bring the situation back to an even keel.
The most valuable asset a Software Tester can have is an attitude of gleeful problem discovery. Someone that loves to break systems, discover their imperfections, and explore their weaknesses makes a great tester. But, to be really good, a product tester really has to care about the quality of the product.
Capturing lessons learned at the end of a project sounds like a great idea. Who wouldn’t want to reflect on what was done right, what could be done better, and then apply those lessons to the next project? Unfortunately, few organizations take the time to build the right kind of lessons learned system, and that means critical information is being lost.
One of the most significant risks we identify is a globally disparate (geographically separated) team. Teams working in separate regions face tremendous challenges that a co-located team doesn’t have to think about, a situation made worse when outsourcing, where conflicts in language, time, culture, and business environment all affect the organization.