“Management is what tradition used to call a liberal art ‘liberal’ because it deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom, and leadership; ‘art’ because it deals with practice and application. Managers draw upon all of the knowledges and insights of the humanities and social sciences on psychology and philosophy, on economics and history, on the physical sciences and ethics. But they have to focus this knowledge on effectiveness and results.”

–Peter F. Drucker

Let’s get to it. Getting the right project manager is beyond just synchronizing the four capabilities and having a realistic expectation as outlined in my previous blogs. What is missing is the Art of Management. This blog will focus on management, specifically, Peter Drucker’s definition of management.

Too often we forget that management is a key component of Project Management, for without it you will have very limited success on complex project; becoming a Project Supervisor instead of a Project Manager. Peter surmised that management “deals with the fundamentals of knowledge…”, which requires “practice and application”; enabling the ability of knowing when and when not to take specific action i.e. wisdom.

So how do we gain wisdom? The ITIL framework provides some insights in this area. It describes wisdom evolving from knowledge, knowledge from information and information from data. Like the path described in the ITIL framework, PM’s needs “practice and application” to be effective Project Managers.

PMP, PRINCE2, CSM, etc. are great but are only the beginning. These credentials show that the bearer now have context (information) of the different activities involved in Project Management. Too often PMs stop at this point instead of moving to the next evolution state of “knowledge” and lastly “wisdom”.

Knowledge: This is the first point that I believe a PM begins to become an effective manager. At this stage the PM enhances the information he/she has received from being credentialed by applying the theories they’ve learnt in different real world situations. With time, the PM would be able to have ideas and insights that deliver successful project management in mid-complexity types of projects.

Wisdom: In this final stage, the PM has continued to effectively “practice and appl[y]” knowledge in a much larger set of real world situations. The wisdom gained enables the PM to have in-depth understanding and make well-informed decisions. At this stage the PM can work effectively on highly complex projects. The PM is then able to create hybrid methodologies and approaches that adapts to an extensive range of projects and program types.

In my assessment, to become an effective manager within a project the minimum requirement is to have knowledge about Project Management methodologies, practices and approaches; being credentialed as a PM is akin to being a Jr. PM. The status of Mid-level PM or PM is achieved by completing the knowledge stage while Sr. PMs are those who have attained the wisdom stage. This is similar to other professions where lawyers, doctors, or engineers are not allowed to handle complex jobs until the have a proven track record of experience in “practice and application”. 

So where would you place yourself in this continuum? i.e. How diverse is your experience?