Making it real! Ask, answer, write it down!

Life is a Project

SERIES ARTICLE

By Neil Robinson

London, UK

 



One of the primary objectives of the “Life is a Project” workshops was to test the feasibility of the concept that a logical, practical, set of life-based project management skills and techniques could be imparted to a non-technical, non-project-management audience. In effect, “demystifying” project management for the masses.

As professional Project Managers we have learned through experience that the process of articulating in writing a clear and concise description of our project’s purpose, scope, justification and high-level approach is a crucial element of every successful project initiation. In a formal project management context this may take the form of a Project Charter (PMBOK) or a Project Initiation Document (PRINCE2).

Figure 1: Develop Project Charter (Source: PMI, 2008, p. 74)

Just as critically, in the domain of life projects, through the process of documenting our bright idea, we make it real! As we ask ourselves the very same questions of what, why, when, how, who and what if, we bring focus and intent to our life goals, developing them from vague concepts into targeted plans, or projects.

Keep it simple

A project statement, in the context of everyday life, does not need to be a formal charter. It just needs to ask and answer those same key questions, in simple, everyday terms. During the LIAP workshops, participants brainstormed their ideas, selected a life project, analysed the key project questions and used a simplified template to document their own life project.

From fiction to fact

In the specific case of the LIAP London pilot, all participants were engaged in the navigation of a common life project – the process of cross-cultural transition as migrants in the UK. As noted during that initiative (Robinson, 2017) and more formal academic studies (Ward and Kennedy, 2009), the very act of engaging in “task-oriented planning” and documenting the project was observed as a very positive and active coping strategy, a critical step forward in taking a vague concept and making it real!

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

Who’s doing what? Make it clear

 

 

More…

To read entire article, click here

 

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles by Neil Robinson, author of the award winning paper “Life is a Project: Enabling Life Skills in Cross-Cultural Transitions”, first presented at the 6th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States, University of Latvia, April 2017. The paper was selected by the Project Management Institute (PMI®) for the 2017 James R. Snyder International Student Paper of the Year Award for the EMEA Region. The paper and this article are inspired by the outcomes of the Life is a Project (LIAP) education initiative launched by the author to teach project management life skills to a group of ESL (English as a Second Language) adults in London.

 



About the Author


Neil C. Robinson

London, United Kingdom

 




Neil C. Robinson
is an experienced Business and Technology Project Manager, consultant and trainer with global experience delivering complex projects, transformation programmes, and business solutions in diverse geographic locations. His experience as a practitioner includes Senior Programme/Project Management, IT Services, and Operational roles in the private and public sectors. His domain experience includes IT Management and Project Delivery roles in the Aviation, Technology, Oil & Energy, Health, Government, Insurance, and Education sectors. His regional Project Management experience includes on-ground delivery in 20+ countries across the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Australasia, the Americas and Asia.

Neil is PMP and PRINCE2 accredited and is currently undertaking research and academic studies in a Masters (Project Management) programme at Salford Business School. He has a special interest in social project management and initiated the “Life is a Project” concept in London, teaching project management life skills to ‘at-risk’ community groups. His further research interests include the roles of motivation and cultural intelligence in international project success.

Neil can be contacted at [email protected] and welcomes global collaboration from practitioners, academics and students in his field of interest.

To View other works by Neil Robinson, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/neil-c-robinson/

 

 

Life Goals: a project based approach

SERIES ARTICLE

Life is a Project

By Neil Robinson

London, UK

 



In January 2016 an ambitious pro-bono initiative, Life is a Project (LIAP), was launched in Ealing, West London – an exploratory series of five weekly workshops, teaching basic project management concepts and skills to a diverse group of ESL (English as a Second Language) adults. The aim of this initiative was to explore the feasibility and potential value of the concept in the context of personal capability building and life goal achievement.

Workshop approach – visual, practical, and language-graded

Providing skills training to a diverse ESL audience necessitated a visual, rather than textual, approach and set of learning materials. Text was necessarily language-graded as much as possible. In the world of English Language Teaching, skills are imparted, from a state of “ignorance” through to “active use”, via a cyclical teaching process of process of Input – Learning – Use.

Figure 1: LIAP Teaching Approach (Source: Adapted from Scrivener, 2011, p.126)

The LIAP workshops followed the same approach by incrementally eliciting and explaining new concepts, then checking understanding through structured exercises, controlled practice and finally active application to participants’ real life projects.

So, what is a project?

As professional Project Managers, we generally think of a project as a temporary business undertaking with a fixed purpose, underpinned by a positive business case. Our leading professional associations define a project as “a unique, transient endeavour undertaken to achieve planned objectives” (Association for Project Management [APM], 2012) or as “a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result” (Project Management Institute [PMI], 2008, p.5).

However, according to Maylor (2010, p.3) “Life is one big project. The trick is in managing it”. Here we have the concept of Life being viewed as a series of related tasks which can be planned and managed as “one big project”. Is this a valid view? In the sense that Life is temporary, unique and has a purpose, Maylor’s statement is absolutely valid. In theory, the tools, techniques and skills of project management can be applied with equal efficacy to any endeavour that meets the project criteria of temporariness, uniqueness and purpose, including “life projects”.

The first of five LIAP workshops introduced participants to the concept and definition of “projects” with an emphasis on everyday life needs and aspirations. Their comprehension of the concept was checked with an exercise on identifying valid project scenarios. A guided deconstruction of example life projects into logical constituent phases helped to elicit the simple model of a five stage Imagine – Plan – Do – Check – Achieve project lifecycle.

More…

To read entire article, click here

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles by Neil Robinson, author of the award winning paper “Life is a Project: Enabling Life Skills in Cross-Cultural Transitions”, first presented at the 6th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States, University of Latvia, April 2017. The paper was selected by the Project Management Institute (PMI®) for the 2017 James R. Snyder International Student Paper of the Year Award for the EMEA Region. The paper and this article are inspired by the outcomes of the Life is a Project (LIAP) education initiative launched by the author to teach project management life skills to a group of ESL (English as a Second Language) adults in London.



About the Author


Neil C. Robinson

London, United Kingdom

 

 


Neil C. Robinson
is an experienced Business and Technology Project Manager, consultant and trainer with global experience delivering complex projects, transformation programmes, and business solutions in diverse geographic locations. His experience as a practitioner includes Senior Programme/Project Management, IT Services, and Operational roles in the private and public sectors. His domain experience includes IT Management and Project Delivery roles in the Aviation, Technology, Oil & Energy, Health, Government, Insurance, and Education sectors. His regional Project Management experience includes on-ground delivery in 20+ countries across the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Australasia, the Americas and Asia.

Neil is PMP and PRINCE2 accredited and is currently undertaking research and academic studies in a Masters (Project Management) programme at Salford Business School. He has a special interest in social project management and initiated the “Life is a Project” concept in London, teaching project management life skills to ‘at-risk’ community groups. His further research interests include the roles of motivation and cultural intelligence in international project success.

Neil can be contacted at [email protected] and welcomes global collaboration from practitioners, academics and students in his field of interest.

To see other works by Neil Robinson, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/neil-c-robinson/

 

 

Project Skills for All

SERIES ARTICLE

Life is a Project Series

By Neil Robinson

London, UK

 



Why? The niggle – intrinsic motivation and making a difference.

Managing Global Projects. For some, this vocation conjures images of business lounges, luxurious hotels, exotic destinations and well-organised project operations all orchestrated by an immaculately composed Project Manager, with just a laptop and wi-fi connection from the shade of a coconut palm. For most of us, reality “in the trenches” couldn’t be more different, as we spend our waking moments engaged in a never-ending series of races against time, scope, cost and quality constraints trying to cajole thinly-stretched team members to achieve exceptional targets promised to expectant and often incensed stakeholders in culturally and geographically diverse regions of the world.

Occasionally, during moments of recuperation, our thoughts might turn to the question of “Why?” We may dimly recall those inspiring case studies glimpsed in the pages of project management publications, outlining the intrinsically-motivated pursuits of fellow Project Management practitioners, brimming with the motivational joy of Maslow’s self-actualisation as they share their skills and expertise with incredibly receptive, respectful and appreciative stakeholders across the globe. “One day…” we tell ourselves as we smack down our coffee, snatch the latest Issues Log, pick ourselves up from the Data Centre floor and return to the fray.

A chance conversation. The seed is sown.

In March of 2015, attending the PMI EMEA Congress in London, UK, a chance conversation ensued with an interesting US gentleman by the name of Jim Snyder.

Having recently returned from a sabbatical (parental health issues) in Australia, I’d taken the opportunity to get involved in a few community projects such as teaching English to migrants and promoting the concept of volunteering within the City of London. The UK Government had invested in a substantial national literacy and language initiative aimed at supporting the skills capability of “at-risk” community groups. The programme was titled Skills for Life, which sparked an excited response in the eyes of Jim Snyder who ushered me aside and thrust a booklet in my hands – Project Management for Social Good.

Jim spoke about the concept of Skills for Life in a project management context and the initiatives of the PMI Education Foundation who were developing simple, intuitive methods for teaching project based “life skills” to school children, particularly in developing countries.

So if we can successfully teach Project Management “lite” to children, teachers and charity workers…why not migrants, refugees and other “at-risk” community groups whose capabilities might benefit significantly from such skills? The seed was sown.

The concept – Life is a Project – project skills for all

The Life is a Project (LIAP) concept was defined in broad terms as a voluntary initiative:

  1. To develop a volunteer-led, community-based program of project skills training for the benefit of minority community groups most at risk of social exclusion.
  2. To target the same disadvantaged audiences as the UK National ESOL Skills for Life initiatives.
  3. To deliver practical, relevant and digestible project skills for life training.
  4. To inspire and open doors for others.

More…

To read entire article, click here


Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles by Neil Robinson, author of the award winning paper “Life is a Project: Enabling Life Skills in Cross-Cultural Transitions”, first presented at the 6th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States, University of Latvia, April 2017. The paper was selected by the Project Management Institute (PMI®) for the 2017 James R. Snyder International Student Paper of the Year Award for the EMEA Region. The paper and this article are inspired by the outcomes of the Life is a Project (LIAP) education initiative launched by the author to teach project management life skills to a group of ESL (English as a Second Language) adults in London.


 
About the Author


Neil C. Robinson

London, United Kingdom

 



Neil C. Robinson
is an experienced Business and Technology Project Manager, consultant and trainer with global experience delivering complex projects, transformation programmes, and business solutions in diverse geographic locations. His experience as a practitioner includes Senior Programme/Project Management, IT Services, and Operational roles in the private and public sectors. His domain experience includes IT Management and Project Delivery roles in the Aviation, Technology, Oil & Energy, Health, Government, Insurance, and Education sectors. His regional Project Management experience includes on-ground delivery in 20+ countries across the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Australasia, the Americas and Asia.

Neil is PMP and PRINCE2 accredited and is currently undertaking research and academic studies in a Masters (Project Management) programme at Salford Business School. He has a special interest in social project management and initiated the “Life is a Project” concept in London, teaching project management life skills to ‘at-risk’ community groups. His further research interests include the roles of motivation and cultural intelligence in international project success.

Neil can be contacted at mailto:[email protected]and welcomes global collaboration from practitioners, academics and students in his field of interest.