Thoughts on the Need for and the Value of Hands-on Experience

A project leader and manager needs to have experienced "hands-on"

in real-life projects to possess the wisdom, the maturity, and the experience required to wisely and decisively lead and manage the initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closing of projects so that the project does in actuality deliver sustainable value to the business.

     Some people opine that a project manager (PM) does not need hands-on experience because (s)he has the project team. For example, they say in a software development project the PM doesn't need to know how to program. This is a recipe for potential project failure. A visit to Project Boot Hill will be an eye opener. Of course, a PM does not need to be a subject matter expert (SME) in every sub-task that is part of the various project activities. But a PM must have acquired at least some practical experience in the areas that play a role in the project.

     As always, common sense (if it is still available and accepted in the organization) should be the final guide on the appropriate amount of necessary practical experience.



The QT Approach to Project Leadership and Management

Under a short term view, it might appear that for the completion of projects it is more effective and efficient if QT, or some other consultancy, takes over a project and, in the case of QT, completes the project on time, within budget, and within the defined scope (while having adhered to all defined constraints).

     However, QT is convinced that, in the long run, enterprises harvest the greatest benefit if potential project team members from within the organization are first properly trained by QT and subsequently given the opportunity and the responsibility to perform all project leadership and management activities themselves (with discrete guidance by QT, if desired).

     The purpose of a project is, in QT's view, to transform a business (or an area or process of a business) from its current state to a desired new state. This transformation must be sustainable if it is to provide lasting value to the business. For a transformation to be sustainable it, that is its "weight", must be continuously "carried" by the employees of the organization. Being humans with all the strengths and weaknesses that this entails, employees are more likely to carry a business transformation if they are the decisive force that originally had accomplished the transformation.

     What makes the QT approach unique?

The elements of the preceding list are described and explained in detail in the holistic project leadership and management guide (HPLMguide) written by the founder and chief consultant of QTunnel Business Consulting.

     This guide can be used as a textbook in colleges and universities (an instructor's manual is available for authorized instructors), as a training manual for newcomers to the project management profession, and as a supporting document for established practitioners in the field of project management.

     In addition to the HPLMguide, QT recommends using the practice standards described in the PMBOK® Guide as well as the PRINCE2® methodology whenever they are helpful or necessary to reach the all-important goal of successful project closure. On the software side, QT recommends using mind mapping software to lead and manage projects. When using a mind mapping software product, you will not only work with a highly efficient tool but you will also enhance your creative thinking due to the inspirational power of mind mapping.

     As an aside, a comment on PMP® certification: On the quiet, some people call the certification test a nuisance and maintain that holding the certification does not help you or tell you how manage a project. True, most tests are a nuisance before you pass them. However, QT is of the opinion that having studied for and earned the PMP® certification will in actuality help you to manage projects. You will have been exposed to the set of the most widely used professional project management terminology and you will have gained knowledge about a large number of management tools.

     In addition, having sat through the exam, you proved to yourself and your (potential) employers that you have the stamina to perform under stress. Therefore, QT strongly recommends to acquire the PMP® certification. The founder and chief consultant of QT and author of the HPLMguide himself is PMP-certified until July 2020.

    As a final note, there are two elements that are not included in the QT approach to project leadership and management: "management by scheduling" and "management by round-robin status meetings".

     Too many project managers function as such in name only while in reality they work as project schedulers instead (although maybe as good ones, provided they are well-versed in the use of one of the ubiquitous scheduling software products) and/or they merely function as meeting facilitators of round-robin status reports.

     But scheduling by itself is neither leadership nor management. A detail-oriented team member should be assigned to maintain and monitor the sufficient amount of necessary scheduling. And, facilitating the recitation of written status reports in a meeting is likewise neither leadership nor management.

     The status of every activity step in a project should be public— that is team—knowledge on an ongoing basis. If a status meeting is called, its only purpose should be the evaluation of and decision on proposed and published (before the meeting) solution steps to resolve an issue that could not be solved during normal project work.


Back to top