In the previous article, we touched on this subject and today we expand the discussion. The following is part of the SUKAD Applied Learning Program – Essentials (ALP-E).
Why Applied Learning?
Project management is an applied domain and the best way to learn it is on the job by applying the concepts. Secondly, project management must be performed in teams, and not by an individual or an incongruous group of individuals.
Numerous research by top professional organizations and SUKAD research and observations in the region suggest that classroom training, especially of a generic nature, is not enough. Even when the training leads to certifications from global project management associations, the desired learning outcomes have not been achieved. Some reasons for this may be:
- Most training programs depend on lectures and injecting knowledge. That knowledge is maintained until the exam, but quickly forgotten after, if not practiced on the job. Again, this is true even with generic certifications like the PMP (Project Management Professional) and PRINCE2. Unless those professionals who achieved these certifications are empowered to develop, or update, or enhance the Organizational Project Management system, then the return on investment from these training programs is reduced to a minimal.
- Most training, and in particular certification preparation (with the exception of the newly established PRINCE2 Professional), focuses on individual knowledge as the main requirement to pass the exam.
- Generic training often neglects the real life workplace dynamics in organizations, and often the techniques learned in class, even when participants buy into them, are quickly discarded by the work environment as wasteful and unnecessary.
At SUKAD we believe that learning has occurred when behavior has changed for the benefit of both the organization and the individual.
This means that the emphasis must be on creating shared workplace knowledge, leading to the formation of a collective mental model in a given environment. Such a model may include an organization specific OPM system, but also the tacit knowledge of which techniques should be selected and which team members are best suited to a particular project.
For project management, the ideal learning environment is to blend and integrates:
- classroom lectures, with
- practice through individual and group exercises on a real or realistic project, in the classroom, and
- if the program supplements the classroom work with on-the-job practice on a REAL project, working with a project sponsor, and a mentor/coach if available.
In organizations where there is an established project management department or office, an internal mentor or coach would be helpful. However, if such mentors are not available, or the organization does not have a PM Department or PMO, then SUKAD Principal Consultant can fill that role. In either case, a sponsor, or project owner is necessary, and a real project would be preferred.
In other words, if organizations want the prevailing culture to change, high-level support is necessary to facilitate such change, and real life scenarios are needed to ensure relevance of the learning.