Now before you all bombard my blog site with death threats, this is not going to be a diatribe against the qualifications which are prevalent in the arena of programme and project management. I fully accept that these have a place and a value, and for someone starting out in the world of complex programme / project management, having the confidence of this type of certificate is clearly important and valuable.
But…! My primary concern is that in the effort to sell the value of these types of courses, there is a temptation to oversell what are well described and proven frameworks for some kind of a panacea which will magically transform the individual into an expert programme and project manager. My favourite analogy is that of golf…going for a series of lessons where one learns about the swing, the nature of each club and perhaps some idea around strategy on a golf range is a fundamentally different experience to playing on a course where the position of ones feet, the climate and wind, the type of course and the obstacles it presents are all new experiences.
More than that and stay with me as I continue the analogy, the temptation to focus on one particular club, the driver, which is most gratifying as you send the ball into the distance, is completely opposite to the most appropriate strategy from a practice perspective, ie to practice ones putting…after all, most people have at least double the number of putts per round than they do drives. Similarly, the temptation to focus on the infrastructure of programme and project management, the plans, risk registers, dependency and benefit trackers which are good and satisfying artefacts to produce are important but ultimately a side show to the real challenge of stakeholder management, change and communications. Most project and programme managers that I’ve spoken to, would confirm that these are the real challenges and also motivators behind the role.
My challenge to those who train is to push the pendulum in that direction. Not only will you end up with a better cadre of project managers but the value of the qualification will be seen as improving and increasingly relevant to the ever expanding world of transformation.