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

Life is a Project


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




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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/