IPMA International Project Management Association
16 July 2018 / 10:40

Want to become a ‘Project Management Celebrity’? The Do’s and Don’ts

Project management is a techno-process solution with boundary less utility, for both managerial and non-managerial functions, transcending all types of industries and businesses. Therefore, it has become a tool that engineers, scientists, technologists, managers, non-managerial staff and common folks want to possess for economic benefits and career advancement.

What it means is that becoming good at project management is both practical and rewarding. Yet, project management professionals don’t get the exposure one would like or expect them to get. In hindsight, there could be many reasons for the predicament. Some would argue that it is because the discipline is still trying to get foot-hold as a distinct knowledge domain and others may say it could be its extensive utility—from engineering to management, that results in a fluid sense of what it is, making it difficult for project management professionals to be recognised.

Hence, it is not very clear what makes a project management professional stand out from the crowd. Or simply put, what makes a person a Project Management Celebrity?

To build some initial thoughts towards finding a balanced answer to the question, it is important to first build an understanding of what a project management celebrity is? We define a project management celebrity as “a person with a balanced profile of project management education, knowledge, skills and recognition, who significantly and actively contributes to present-day developments in project management while driving future of the discipline with unique thoughts and actions.”

Now that we have a definitional boundary in place, let’s look at some of the known Do’s and Do’nts for becoming a project management celebrity.

The Do’s:
1. Have education in PM
Having formal education of some sorts is the first step in building a sustainable and concrete platform for growth in PM and becoming a project management celebrity. It will help learn best practices and know ‘how other people have done the same thing.’ Rather than experimenting and investing precious time on knowing something that people may already know, it is better to use the same time on developing new knowledge. Educational institutions provide packaged knowledge and transferable skills that could help in getting the desired recognition in the PM field.

2. Have PM Certification
Having a PM certification not only provides needed recognition but also the opportunity to be aligned with current knowledge levels and meet expected standards for operating in PM domain. PM certification complements formal PM education. As such having this combo package is a good omen to grow in PM career.

3. Possess skills that are current and relevant
To stay on the path of becoming a project management celebrity, it is critical to stay relevant to the skill needs of market. Possessing skills that are current and relevant to the industry that a person is operating in or wants to work-in is vital to the growth. Possessing relevant skills in use of commonly used technologies such as Social media, PM techniques and methods and human management will be useful to stay on course to become a project management celebrity.

4. Learn skills in diplomacy
Success in project management requires an intricate balance of possessing human and technical skills. Having skills in diplomacy and penchant for dealing with stakeholders of all types could provide a sustainable advantage to lead the projects successfully and ultimately become a project management celebrity.

5. ‘Sharing is caring’ is not just a saying, make it your day job
Sharing is caring dogma works well in project management as it does in any other situation. Project management being a team-based exercise requires constant sharing of relevant information and knowledge with other people working on the team. Therefore, people who are willing to share their knowledge, skills and expertise could get more respect from their peers. Also, people who share are more likely returned the favor in the form of other people sharing knowledge and information with them too. It helps in developing expertise and becoming known in the profession.

6. Create knowledge that has practical utility
If the knowledge can be put to an immediate use, it helps in building a sound persona for the person or the team who created the knowledge. Creation of new knowledge that has practical utility does not mean necessarily being an expert at everything but knowing something about many things can help in connecting the dots, giving new meaning and creating new knowledge. A person wanting to become a project management celebrity therefore needs to develop an instinct for understanding many things in his/her eco-system.

7. Be the sponge for information and learning, both PM and non-PM related
Relentless pursuit to learn about things that may or may not be directly relevant to PM is vital to stay on the path of becoming a project management celebrity. By becoming a sponge of information, one can absorb and learn on-the-go 24×7 and develop a broad horizon of knowledge which helps in expertise and recognition.

8. Be the driver of new thought
A project management celebrity is expected to be the thought leader, driver of innovation and creativity in processes, methods and above all structure of the discipline. Therefore, seeking to learn and lead development of new thoughts is critical to becoming a project management celebrity.

The Don’ts:
1. Taking a mechanistic view of PM
Project management has as much a human side to it as a technical side. So just being a techy in project management will not help the cause to become a project management celebrity. A mechanistic view will only lead to focus on getting the job done (a Task master) no matter how it is done, which is often a counterproductive approach.

2. Avoiding or discouraging creativity
Creativity is pivotal to any situation let alone projects which are destined to create something new or improve upon an existing being. Stifling creativity will result in having a mindset that will stifle self-learning and growth as well, which will not be very helpful to excel in PM domain.

3. Non-welcoming approach towards use of new techniques and technologies
Often people become comfortable with use of certain methods, techniques and technologies and don’t make efforts to consider using new techniques. They will resist the change saying íf it ain’t broken why fix it. While it is true to certain extent, it is also important to continuously improve. Therefore, staying in the comfort zone and having an un-welcoming approach towards use of new techniques and technologies does not help in growing in the PM domain.

4. Inertia towards skills upgrade
The ongoing technological and methodological developments necessitate continuously upgrading skills. It could be done by taking formal learning or being able to self-learn. An inertia towards learning new skills is counterproductive to say the least.

5. Inertia towards taking a formal education thinking it will be theoretical
Educational institutions provide knowledge and transferable skills on the best practices or the right way of doing things. Programs and courses offered by the educational institutes are not developed in vacuum and hence should not be deemed to deliver theoretical concepts. Infact, educational institutions provide packaged learning that balances foundational in-dispensable knowledge with practical inputs and tools. How much and how the learning is used is a matter of debate that is out of the scope of discussion here. Hence considering formal education as a theoretical dispensation of knowledge is counterproductive in acquiring the necessary knowledge that can help become expert in a certain field.

Concluding thoughts:
It won’t be misplaced to say that the growth of PM—like any other discipline, is very much dependent on having experts and knowledgeable people who not only build new thought but also lead the way into the future. The need for such is imminent and unavoidable.

Developing project management celebrities and / or platform that produces or recognizes project management celebrities may or may not be the complete and only answer to such a need, but at least it can become a work-in-progress step towards achieving the ultimate goal.

Authored by:
Professor Jiwat Ram

© 2018 Jiwat Ram, All Rights Reserved.

1 Comment

  • […] question is how many of these ideas are put to use for further developments? … Read more Want to become a ‘Project Management Celebrity’? The Do’s and Don’ts Project management is a techno-process solution with boundary less utility, for both managerial and […]

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Author of this post

Jiwat is a Professor in Project Management. He has considerable experience of working internationally in diverse cultures and business environments.

Jiwat is currently serving on the Editorial Board of International Journal of Project Management.

Jiwat actively contributes to project management community. His work has been published in top scientific journals and Four of his published papers have remained in Top25 most downloaded papers. Additionally, two of his papers have been ranked as the Most Cited article published since 2012. More recently, he has published a number of articles on some of the issues confronting project management in various industry based outlets.