19 August, 2019

Are You Ready for a Project Management Course (Why you are)?

Do you want to learn about project management?

If you do, I remember that feeling too. There was a time when I wanted to go on a project management course more than anything else, in my working life.

I also remember thinking ‘I’ve never done anything like this before. I hope I’ll follow it.’

Although you are probably just the same as I was…

You may be keen to learn because you suspect that project management is a great career. And it certainly is. Take a look at our article: ’13 Reasons to Take up a Project Management Career’.

But you may also be wondering if it is all a bit too complicated. There’s a lot of jargon to come to terms with (and you can get our Decode the Jargon of Project Management eBook by clicking here) , there are complicated-looking charts, and there are systems, processes, and tools to get your head around.

Most people think their project management knowledge looks like a little dot, within a vast pool of unknown knowledge and skills.

What we think our project management knowledge looks like
What we think our project management knowledge looks like

Nothing could be further from the truth…

The Truth about Your Project Management Knowledge

The truth about your project management knowledge is that you already know most of the things you need to know to be a successful project manager. And a well-designed project management course will have the content and a structure that will help you recognize this.

What you actually know about project management
What you actually know about project management

Project Management Experience

Are You Ready for a Project Management Course? (Why you are)For most of us, it is pretty hard to get past our education and into the start of a job without some experience of projects – even if it is just organizing a party, or your first job search campaign. These are where you started to learn the basic skills of project management, like:

  • list-building
  • sequencing
  • time estimation
  • stakeholder engagement…

The list goes on.

In fact, having trained many thousands of Project Managers in live training environments, I have concluded that there is a lot of truth in the quote from Richard Bach:

Learning is finding out what you already know.

Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you.

Where Do We Acquire our Project Management Experience?

It’s a question I ask a lot of training and seminar groups. And the answers I get are pretty consistent:

  • We learn by doing: trial and error
  • Indeed, most of us learn more from our mistakes than from our successes
  • We get advice from colleagues and people around us
  • And we sometimes just learn from watching what they do
  • Some people also like to learn from books, articles, or YouTube videos.

Add to that the simple fact that project management is little more than organized common sense. So, we figure it out as we go.

What does this Mean for Project Management Training?

I hope you can see that you already know a lot. More importantly, what does this mean for project management courses?

Put simply, the role of a project management course is to take your experiences and what you have learned from others, and your common sense, and organize them all into a logical structure. A good project management training program will give you three things:

  1. A robust process framework to apply your knowledge
  2. Tools, techniques, and methodologies to get results quickly and effectively
  3. The confidence to apply these in the real world of work

So Why Take a Project Management Course?

So you may be wondering:

‘what’s the point of a project management course if I already know it all?’

The purpose of a project management course is to help you connect up all the dots; to make sense of all the different things you do know, and to put it into a framework.

A Project Management Course will connect the dots and create a framework.
A Project Management Course will connect the dots and create a framework.

And it will also give you a whole load of tools and techniques to help you do your job more quickly and reliably.

Moments of Insight

My philosophy on learning and training is simple. A good course will make you think, it will give you moments of insight; when you suddenly understand something in a new way. This gives you more power to apply your existing knowledge – and maybe new knowledge to take out for a spin. These moments of insight take two forms:

  1. Distinction Insights
    These are moments when you first realize that two things, which you thought were the same, are really distinct in some way. Like resource balancing and resource leveling, for example.
  2. Connection Insights
    These are times where you literally feel your brain connecting up the dots. These connections make your old knowledge more powerful. And they deepen your understanding. The connections can be between:

    1. Something you already knew and understood, and a new piece of knowledge.
    2. Two things you already knew and understood, but that you did not recognize as connected

A Single Framework

One of the big benefits of any training course is that it puts everything into the same consistent framework. And project management training is no different. Unlike picking up your project management skills from a patchwork or downloaded articles, blogs, and YouTube videos; you’ll get a consistent approach. The language will all match up and the approaches within the course will mesh together neatly. There will be none of that: ‘is this referring to the same thing as that?’ confusion.

You can also have a lot of confidence that someone who has put together a coherent project management course knows what they are talking about. It’s not easy to design a full program based on shallow knowledge.

But do take a look at the experience of the trainer. Ask:

‘have they really done project management or are they just a trainer who has learned the material from other trainers or from books?’

There are:

  1. Project Management professionals who want to teach what they know, but who have not acquired the skills to train effectively
  2. Trainers who have learned enough about Project Management to put together the course they want to run – but who have little depth beyond the course scope
  3. Project Managers who have also learned how to train effectively, and have built up some solid experience communicating and teaching

Guess which you should ideally see out! I am straying here into the topic of how to choose a project management course.

There’s Always More

Another way you will know you are ready for a project management course is simple: do you have a raging thirst to learn?

A good project management course will be both:

  • a stand-alone course that gives you the full story, but also
  • a course that connects up to others that give you more depth, and related side-stories.

Project Management is a big, sprawling discipline. It does not stand alone as a simple, contained package of knowledge. It interconnects with a near-limitless number of disciplines, like:

  • risk management
  • interpersonal communication
  • marketing
  • negotiation
  • conflict management
  • leadership
  • personal effectiveness
  • staff development: coaching, mentoring, training
  • benefits management
  • decision-making
  • problem-solving
  • health & safety
  • team-building

Need I go on?

A good Project Management Course will link up with others, creating a web of knowledge
A good Project Management Course will link up with others, creating a web of knowledge

If you are looking at some of the other promised courses and thinking ‘oh yeah.., that sounds good...’  Then you know you are ready!

So, if you are ready…

Why not take a look at some of our courses?
What’s to lose? Just click this link to take a look at our menu of all our courses.

And if you are wondering:
‘Should I go for an online Project Management course, or Live Training…’

Why not check out our feature article: Is an Online Project Management Course better than Live Training? (10 reasons why it is)

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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