09 November 2006

P.M. B.S. ?

At my job, we are required to take x hours of training classes per year. Much as I love the few days out of the office on training, the past few years I've been really busy with all kinds of project works. Only recently that things cool down and I was able to sign up for some courses. I figured since I devote most of my time to project work, I should take a course on project management and see from the project manager's point-of-view.

This week I spent three days in the course called Project Management Fundamentals for I.T. Professionals. While the instructor was quite fun to be with and was knowledgeable on the subject, the course itself was so dry. It was mostly about learning a new lingo, the words and phrases that take on different meanings when applied to the Project Management world. For someone who loves words and their meanings, it was a pain to re-learn many of the words as understood in Project Management. Example: agile means able to move quickly and easily and its noun as agility, as in "He multitasks with the agility of a monkey on branches." In the P.M. world, agile refers to a type of project in which the team is well-formed, everyone knows everyone else, all members are on the same technical skill, minimal amount of documentation is needed. Duh. Then there are also many different phases of the projects or stages of communication that we had to know. When a team is first formed, the members must go through the five stages of Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. There was a short side trip about the stages of various reaction to changes: Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression, and Acceptance. Oh, don't forget the five options to conflicts: Forcing, Confronting, Compromising, Avoiding, and Accommodating. I know it's all about options, but it sounds like every problem can be resolved. Oh, yeah, the instructor repeatedly pointed out that multitasking is a no-no. He had us do the following exercise: On a piece of paper, write down the numbers 1 to 26, three numbers at a time, and then also write the English alphabet, A to Z, three letters at a time. Then on a different piece of paper, we wrote the numbers and letters in one shot instead of flipping pages and switching minds. As expected, the time it took to write in "multitasking" mode for some teams was up to 50% longer. Interesting.

The course is a stepping stone toward a certification in Project Management, to become a Project Management Professional. I don't know if my mind will be different in a few months/years, for now I'm glad I'm not managing projects. I do work on a lot of projects but on the execution ends. It's a lot more fun to get into the action and actually doing the work.

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