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Project (Mis)management

January 27, 2010

Yesterday I mentioned I’ll probably be spending time talking about my classes and what I learned there, just to have something to talk about.  Today is my first opportunity to do so, and now I’m not sure what to say.

Keep in mind that I wrote yesterday’s entry well in advance of it posting.  In other words: it wasn’t written on Tuesday morning.  In fact, it was written before my class on Monday evening.  Monday’s class was the first opportunity for the Project Management class to meet, due to a few scheduling snafus surrounding the Martin Luther King holiday last week.   Meanwhile, my Thursday night Decision Modeling class has met twice.

It looks like a good chunk of the focus of this class will be (1) learning the Project Management Lingo, (2) learning to argue for the need of project managers and (3) learning how and why projects fail (and ostensibly, how to fix them).

But speaking of project failure… well… my mother always taught me that if I don’t have anything nice to say about someone, then I shouldn’t say anything at all.  But a class isn’t a person.  So… here it goes.  It was  pretty tough because we were in the farthest, smallest classroom that seemed to be  available.  And that classroom was about a half-dozen seats shy of having enough room for the number of students enrolled.  It seems the classroom was picked because it’s a lab with access to laptops that can be checked out – but every regular lecture classroom has laptop power and network access at each seat, and most students have their own laptops (if warned they need to bring them), so that should be a non-issue.  Which brings up another issue.  Most classes in our school have their syllabus posted well in advance of the first class day.  For this class, Monday was the first time we’ve seen the syllabus, so there was little to know what to expect except by the course catalog description.

Further, perhaps because we were all downloading and installing new software, or because how crammed we were, or perhaps due to some other cause, this was one of the most disorganized and, quite frankly, unruly classes I’ve attended in this school.  There was near-constant chattering and side-bar conversations happening throughout the class.  Through all this background noise, the class lost focus a number of times.

Overall, I’m very hopeful that this first session is not indicative of what the class will be like.  I’ve come to expect a pretty high standard for the classes at my school, and expect to learn a lot from them (which is hard to do in a classroom as unfocused as Monday night’s).  I’m really interested in learning more about Project Management, and developing those skills.  I think those skills will be very valuable both in my business career as well as, potentially, my writing career.

That last assertion comes from this definition of “Project Management”: a “temporary effort to produce a unique product, service, or outcome”.  Essentially, each novel or short story is a “unique product”.  The work on each occurs over a finite period of time.  You complete a book or story, then you move on to the next.  There are steps and processes involved in the production and refinement of that product.  All of this looks very much like a “Project” according to that definition.

This is what I like about getting an MBA.  One one hand, I’m working toward making sure I have a career that can support my family.  That’s my first goal, and each class I take gives me new skills and insights, and hopefully points me toward a career path, within business, that is fulfilling and meaningful.  At the same time, though, I’m finding more and more that these business skills should also prove invaluable to me if I am ever able to get my “second career” as a writer off the ground.  Writers are business people, whether they know it or not, and not knowing how to run that business is a good recipe for business failure.  Most writers aren’t in it for that, though.  And that shortsightedness, I believe, is a limiting factor.  So, I’m happy to build and grow those skills, whether I’m only able to use them in a very conventional career or able to take them to another level in a writing career.

Happy writing.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2010 7:28 pm

    Looks like whoever planned that class doesn’t cut it as a Project Manager.

    I took actually a course myself, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t that bad. I’m wondering why do you need PC’s for in the class.

    PS: Take a look at this collection of article for project management for beginners, you will find it very useful. Also check the “Huts” page on PM Hut.

    Project Management is a great profession, if done right.

    • January 27, 2010 10:42 pm

      I believe the PCs are because we will be learning and using MS Project in the class – not because MS Project = Project Management, I think, but because in the hands of a skilled Project Manager, it can prove very useful.

      Your first thought was my first, somewhat ironic, thought about the class. But, again, I’m hopeful it was a temporary snafu.

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