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Project Management, Viewpoint!

PRINCE2 Practitioner makes you no more of a Project Manager than GCSE Chemistry makes you a Chemist!

BathwaterAdrian Dooley’s blog post on the APM website is titled “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” and it’s a breath of fresh air in the discussion about the value of knowledge-based Project Management qualifications such as APMP and PRINCE2 Practitioner.

He writes “In the late 1990’s there was definitely an upsurge in popularity of these qualifications. Much of it was driven by the recruitment industry that needed simple badges for use in initial candidate selection. Many people sought to gain the qualifications to improve their CVs. The tipping point came when it ceased to be an advantage to have them on your CV but became a disadvantage not to have them. That’s when they became commodity products and really took off.

There are so many examples of organisations looking for simple “silver bullets” (ISO9001 springs to mind!) where ticking boxes is expected to be sufficient to enable successful change and improvement.  Recruiters (internal and external) seem to have misunderstood the relevance and value of qualifications such as APMP and PRINCE2, yet they have become almost mandatory for many project roles, particularly in the public sector.  Despite this focus on recruiting “qualified” Project Managers, there are an awful lot of project failure horror stories.

Adrian says “The problem is not that the qualifications are inadequate – it’s the perception of what they represent that is misguided. Knowledge based qualifications are an early stepping stone to becoming a competent project manager“.

One of the comments after Adrian’s post says “Effective (i.e., competent) managers need to know what should be done, have the skills to do the work and be willing to actually do the work. ”  That reminds me of what I learnt (a long time ago) about the basics of training, when we were told that education and training aims to impart Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes.  [I’m not sure I’m so convinced about the Attitudes element – more about KSA here]

So, knowledge, as “measured” in the form of qualifications is important, but the successful application of that knowledge is what organisations should really be assessing when they seek to recruit a Project Manager.  Equally, they should be helping their up and coming Project Managers develop real competence and capability, beyond their achievement of qualifications.

I think one of my clients has got it spot-on: they are not obsessed with recruiting people who have PM qualifications for projects; they want evidence of experience and competence with a good underpinning of knowledge.  However, they are obsessed with ensuring people working on projects are given the knowledge and skills to succeed and they provide that in a way that is tailored to individuals’ and business needs.  It just happens to be that they use the APM competency model as their baseline.

Read more about how I help organisations develop people with real project capabilities.

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