A PMP does not a PM make

While a PMP certification definitely gives the theoretical knowledge required to manage a project, it doesn't necessarily make for the best project manager.

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Quoting Wikipedia, certification refers to the confirmation of certain characteristics of an object, person or organization. This confirmation is often, but not always, provided by some form of external review, education or assessment.

In the world of project management, the project management certification is often considered the holy grail. It is a way of weeding out wanna be project managers from the real project managers. A PMP certified project manager can ostensibly command more respect, more moolah and more authority than the ones who aren’t PMP certified.

This is where the outlook on ‘project management life’ through rose tinted glasses fails. While a PMP certification definitely gives the theoretical knowledge required to manage a project, it can fall terribly short of making a super star project manager.

The super-star project manager

Super star project managers aren’t created accidentally or solely as by-products of a formal training program – the qualities of super star project managers have to be nurtured and the progression of a project manager from a run of the mill project manager to a super star has to be organic.

A person of reasonable intelligence can take the courses offered by the PMP institute and acquire the textbook knowledge around scheduling, budgeting, managing risks and issues, resourcing etc. What separates the wheat from the chaff is how much of that textbook knowledge a project manager is willing to take and apply to their project scenario.

Why type of project manager are you?

Are you the type of project manager who believes that your responsibility ends with providing weekly status reports to the stakeholder – with appropriate color coding reflecting high, medium and low risk? Or are you the type of project manager who rolls up your sleeves and works with your team of developers and analysts to come up with suitable design solutions if a particular issue is trending red?

Are you the type of project manager who manages daily scrum meetings with much the same enthusiasm and alertness as brushing your teeth in the morning? Or are you the type of project manager that instills a sense of pride in your team when they share their daily scrum updates with the rest of the team?

Are you the type of project manager whose sole responsibility on deployment day involves making coffee runs for the developers at 2am? Or are you the type of project manager whose responsibility on deployment day not only involves making coffee runs for developers at 2am but also assisting in an emergency manual conversion of 50,000 records because the ETL script failed in the production run?

Being a part of the team

If you identified yourself with only part one of the questions above – then I challenge you to look beyond the academic definition of a project manager. Go above and beyond the call of duty by tapping into the non project manager side of yourself – the side which at the end of the day is really a team member.

The moment you transcend the traditional role of a project manager and emerge from behind the confines of Microsoft Project – you will notice a whole other world out there – a project world that looks up to you to be a true leader because your team sees you seeing yourself as one of them; committed to the success of the project to the bitter end.

This was last published in May 2011



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