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Getting Beyond Digital in Project Management

written by: John P. Reiling • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 6/25/2016

If you master the core of project management, you will get beyond the fear of being left behind by digital technology. It is something that has not changed from before the term “project management" was even coined to the fast paced, digitally driven world of today and it’s not likely to change now.

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    Sticking to the Basics – Without Getting Stuck

    Getting Beyond Digital in Project Management Let’s talk first about the basics and then turn to a single caveat that can undermine your efforts if you are unaware.

    The basics here refer to the basics of project management. Now this is not the place to go into those basics of project management. That is beyond the scope of this post. However, I ask you to honestly evaluate your level of mastery of the basics and hold yourself to the highest of standards when it comes to mastering the basics of project management.

    So, let’s turn to a well-established and accepted framework around the subject of mastery, Bloom’s Taxonomy. Proposed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist at the University of Chicago, Bloom’s Taxonomy is a classification of the different objectives and skills that educators set for their students. The terminology has been recently updated to include the following six levels of learning. While it is intended for students, we can use it to evaluate ourselves, as well. I have adapted these definitions for the subject of project management.

    1. Remembering: Retrieving, recognizing and recalling project management concepts, frameworks and knowledge from long‐term memory.
    2. Understanding: Constructing meaning in the practice of project management from oral, written, and graphic messages through interpreting, exemplifying, classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, and explaining.
    3. Applying: Carrying out or using project management methodologies through executing, or implementing in real-world situations.
    4. Analyzing: Breaking project management problems into constituent parts, determining how the parts relate to one another and to an overall framework through differentiating, organizing and attributing.
    5. Evaluating: Making judgments based on objective management criteria and project management standards through checking and critiquing.
    6. Creating: Putting elements of project management together to form a coherent or functional whole, and reorganizing elements into a fit-for-purpose pattern or structure for effective practical use.

    Mastery, therefore, is much more than book knowledge. In project management, it is the ability to understand the whole – the overall understanding, a vision for a project end state, and an intimate familiarity with the details required to get there – of a project and draw on the key resources needed to make it happen for each individual case.

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    The Most Common Mistake

    The biggest mistake that people make is when they are not quite at number six in the taxonomy described above, to apply frameworks, methodologies, and processes dogmatically to situations where seasoned judgments and judicious selection of tools would win the day. When you reach the number six level of mastery, project management elevates to an art. True mastery means that you can handle the situation that presents itself…and not that you are a technical solution in search of a problem.

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    Evaluate Yourself – and Be Honest

    Are you a master of the basics of project management? Do you see the basics as a means to an end, or the end itself?

Digital Project Management Comprehensive Overview

This is a four-part series addressing digital project management. Learn what digital is, how it pertains to PM, how to go beyond digital and how to protect your career in the digital age.
  1. Digital Project Management: What Is Digital?
  2. Digital Project Management Defined
  3. Getting Beyond Digital in Project Management
  4. Protect Your Project Management Career in the Digital Age