A Structured Approach to Project Competence for any Organisations
Delivering successful projects and programmes in an increasingly complex world is causing organisations, large and small, to develop their project managers like never before. Expectations are increasing and the implications of failure are becoming daunting. To quote Sir Peter Gershon, “The time has come for project managers to stand up and be counted”. Developing project managers requires a sound framework that includes not just accreditation training but also a blend of ‘on the job’ activities, organisation specific training, coaching, mentoring as well as developing the right opportunities and embedding it all in a community of practice that encourages success through the experience of doing. To achieve this, more and more organisations are establishing professional ‘Project Management Academies’.
What is a Project Academy?
These blend the key components of successful delivery into the project manager’s career path and the fabric of the organisation as a whole. The project manager is no longer treated as an isolated individual, but a peer of a group of developing, high performing project managers. Consistent delivery of complex projects and programmes requires this mature project environment and an integrated approach at the business level. It is recognised that “people make projects work”; human dimensions are critical to nearly all of these success criteria.
Project Academies for any Size Organisation using the Parallel Learning System
The development of a project management academy can often be just one part of an overall leadership and management programme. An effective project academy will develop the whole person such as one of the first to be implemented by NASA. They recognised that a person’s Ability, the nature of their Assignment, their Attitudes, and how they build Alliances, when combined together delivered true Effectiveness. They recognised the need to develop the whole person. Good project managers have the right Attitude with good listening skills, a willingness to work collaboratively with others and create an environment of healthy challenge within which the project can be delivered. Excellent project managers are good at building Alliances in projects using formal and informal networking. They have the ability to conceptualise the project in an analytical way in order to understand the big picture and they are capable and willing to take on development assignments beyond their comfort zone. The result is a blend of formal courses, development work assignments, leadership coaching and knowledge sharing activities. This model works for many organisations large and small. Isolated training (especially where it is unconnected and lacking structure) will only deliver limited returns.
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In this paper we will consider a number of key components of a successful project management academy, primarily;
- The benefits of implementing an academy approach;
- Some practical steps in implementing an academy;
- A proposal for a development framework;
- Tailoring the academy to specific corporate needs;
- A typical project management academy structure