SPONSORS

SPONSORS

The Role of Critical Thinking in Project Management[1]

SECOND EDITION

Phil Caputo, PMP, Six Sigma Black Belt

North Carolina, USA
________________________________________________________________________

Project managers are drivers by nature. They are not typically satisfied to hear an issue, and simply wait for resolution to come their way. Most successful PMs want to dig in and understand the problem they are facing, how it impacts their project and most importantly, how to resolve it. More often than not, however, the PM isn’t the subject matter expert on the team. We rely on the knowledge and skills of others to produce project deliverables and develop solutions. The PM’s role is predominantly to manage; track the issues, report the impact and facilitate resolution. It is in this facilitation where project managers can bring value and realize the benefits of critical thinking.

Critical thinking, in the simplest form, is the process of using logic and reasoning to remove bias and opinion, and fully understand a topic. Project teams can benefit greatly by operating from this fact-based viewpoint, especially considering the varied skills and responsibilities of the team members. Clarity around the facts and finely articulated specifics are less likely to create confusion, miscommunication, rework, and unnecessary stress.

Exploring the project lifecycle leads to endless opportunities for improvement by way of critical thinking as well. During project initiation, does it make sense to remove partiality from our Objective Statement? As Plan and Design progresses, should PMs challenge the status quo to ensure that more creative solutions have been considered? During the Execution Phase is clearly a great place to ensure the team is working from a foundation of fact, and the Monitoring and Controlling phase is worthless if what is being monitored is based on an individual or team bias versus relevant metrics and measurements. Clarity in all of these areas is critical and can mean the difference between success and failure.

There are several critical thinking tools in use by project managers every day, although we may not necessarily recognize them as such. These are the more basic tools, which attempt to provide a template to walk users through the critical thinking process. One example is the “5 Whys”, where the facilitator simply continues to ask why until the team has reached the root cause.

More…

To read entire paper (click here)

Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented at the 8th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium in Richardson, Texas, USA in August 2014. It is republished here with permission of the author and symposium organizers. For more about the annual UT Dallas PM Symposium, click here.

About the Author

pmwj28-nov2014-Caputo-AUTHOR PHOTOPhil Caputo flag-usa

Charlotte, NC, USA

Phil Caputo is a Six Sigma Black Belt and PMP certified professional who works with organizations on program management, process optimization and organizational effectiveness. He has a passion for creative problem solving, approaching challenges from multiple directions to develop impactful results. He has worked with several Fortune 500 companies in various industries on a host of large initiatives, providing technical, process and people solutions. He lives in Charlotte, NC. Phil can be contacted at [email protected]

[1] Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented at the 8th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium in Richardson, Texas, USA in August 2014. It is republished here with permission of the author and symposium organizers. For more about the annual UT Dallas PM Symposium, click here.