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Wednesday, 25 June 2008 09:41

Is Project Management Common Sense?

Written by  Margaret Meloni
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“Isn’t this all just common sense?”

Wow, good question. This question was asked by one of my students while we were discussing the importance of managing project resources and assignments based on the critical path. And then some really good conversation ensued.

“Isn’t this all just common sense?”

Wow, good question. This question was asked by one of my students while we were discussing the importance of managing project resources and assignments based on the critical path. And then some really good conversation ensued. This particular student felt that all project management best practices are really just common sense. Others disagreed and still others thought the answer was somewhere in the middle. To some, once they learned the project management best practices, they had an ‘Aha’ moment.

You know? ‘Aha, so that is why project X failed’ or ‘Oh, I get it, that is why once we were behind schedule we never recovered.’

At this point my response is full of bias. But I tried to objectively recall when I was new to project management. I recall starting out in a job and being labeled a team leader. Then one day I was being called a project manager. I was whisked off to training where I learned to use software that helped me create and manage project schedules. That was kind of neat. I thought putting together schedules was fun, sort of like fitting together a puzzle.

One day the company I worked with decided to create something called a PMO. That was new to me. And one day, that new PMO manager asked me about something called a PMBOK. What a funny word, PMBOK. Sounded like a Dr. Seuss character to me.

That is when I realized that I needed to get some formal project management training.

So was that training all just common sense? Yes and no. I learned that assigning work in a logical order and selecting the correct priorities was working the critical path. And thinking about what could wrong (or right), well that was called risk management. Great news, risk management should involve the team, not just me obsessing by myself in my cubicle, car or while I was trying to sleep. What a huge relief.

Was it all common sense to me? I don’t know. Does the fact that formal training and continued experience made me a better project manager mean I developed better common sense?

Then again, if it really is just common sense, why doesn’t everyone do it?

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