But how are these "communication" and "people" skills to
be transferred to each new generation of managers?
Consider, briefly, the development of a new science or discipline. The following
traditional and progressive stages can generally be identified. First, Observations:
collection of anecdotes (empirical). Then, Thesis: generating hypothesis and
theorizing based on observations. Then, Thesis Testing: seeing if what a thesis
predicts is true (i.e., gives support or contradiction); followed by Antithesis:
generating competing theories. Next, a new position: a new theory that explains
all of the foregoing and, finally, Mature Science: a well established discipline.
Thus, the mature science has progressed through stages to ever increasing detail
by a process of "reductionism". That is to say, like a work breakdown
structure, you can take anything and reduce it down to smaller and smaller pieces
to facilitate increasingly detailed understanding. This approach is very successful
in physics, for example, and many other sciences have follow this model. Indeed,
they have done so very successfully.
Consequently, many of our academic institutions are arranged around this model
and are characterized by science specializations. This is also reflected in their
institutional journal publications and the content of each closely reflects the
degree of maturity of each specialization. This may be very appropriate for those
sub-disciplines of project management that are comparatively well established,
such as quality, time and cost management, and which have recognized principles
of planning, measuring and control. But, as we have seen, project management
is not just about "getting things done within time and cost constraints".
It is also about the process or "manner of getting things done", if
"customer satisfaction" is to be achieved and the project acclaimed
This is where people relationships come into play, involving psychological
influences such as power, authority and responsibility, reliability and accountability,
cultural differences, public relations, and so on. These influences are exercised
through communication in its broadest sense. Clearly, these "communication"
and "people" skills are much more than just knowledge. They also take
practice which comes from experience. And that is why we need a new approach
If we are going to manage by projects, then why not "Educate by Projects"?
"Projects" are a familiar part of most school classroom activities.
Unfortunately, the concomitant project management disciplines, as we understand
them in the Project Management Institute, are rarely taught alongside, if indeed,
they are understood at all. Still, there is hope.
establishments are now appearing that use projects as the sole vehicle for real
education ... one that becomes a voyage of discovery, of excitement and adventure
that invokes the whole gamut of skills from motivation, through negotiation,
to delegation, to coordination and successful conclusion.
Learning establishments are now appearing that use projects as the sole vehicle
for enlightenment. In this learning environment, the project is not just an arduous
homework assignment, but a voyage of discovery, of excitement and adventure that
invokes the whole gamut of skills from motivation, through negotiation, to delegation,
to coordination and successful conclusion. If education is learning how to learn,
how to take part and communicate (rather than absorption of subjectively selected
data), then this is real education for it includes the basic skills required
to survive in the real world. In short, education on a much broader bandwidth
and the earlier it starts in the school curriculum the better.