How Do I Learn Real Project Management?

A Checklist on Ways

Ok! You already have some individual craft, know-how, or professional expertise. Or a lot of it. Excellent! 

But now you want to work with others, in bigger projects, ones that can make the world a better place. You want to learn real project management. Fabulous!

And, you already have a short list of ways to learn it. Wonderful! 

But wait! Before you get started down any of those ways, please check it out against the criteria below. If you are not satisfied with the results, please see what we have to say about "real project management"Then, please have a look at our worksite portfolio, our courses, and/or our blog.

1. Is it Constructive?

Does the short-listed learning path depend mostly on looking? Is it based on videos, slides, and web browsing? Systems are not designed and built that way, nor are projects that make a difference. If the learning isn't constructive, it isn't relevant to a collaborative systems practice. In short, it isn't cogent for you. Designers need to listen and observe, no doubt, but they learn best by making things that make a difference outside workshops. In Cogent Language courses, participants construct work products that can make a difference in their worlds: models, prototypes, plans, or decisions.

2. Is it Cooperative?

Is the learning path that you are looking at private? Is it chiefly "self-directed"? Fine, but a collaborative systems practice, and careers that depend on it, are all about cooperating in real time with other people and organizations. They are called "stakeholders". Participants in our courses take on the challenges of collaboration with stakeholders under time constraint, a challenge that is often called "leadership".

3. Is is Cumulative?

Is the learning path mapped out simply by topic? Hmm. Does it build on previous work? Does it incorporate the input and work of others? Does it accumulate knowledge in a concrete product? If not, then what, please, is its connection to collaborative systems practice  in the 21st Century?  The practice today is built on the ability to progressively elaborate work in a team context. In Cogent Language courses, the main learning activities are not topics presented by the instructor - they are tasks that participants do. Task sequences build on previous tasks and topics, with participants incorporating the work of teammates and accumulating knowledge in concrete productsrelevant to their projects. 

4. Is it Fast?

Is the learning path that you are looking at "at your own pace"?  Okay, but fast companies move at internet speed, and it is no accident that many collaborative systems practices surging in importance now are in sync with the agile mindset and agile project managment. To bring participants up to speed quickly, all Cogent Language courses move fast. For individual review and follow up – continued learning at "my pace" – our courese provide worksite, our worksites provide sources , templates for. 

5. Is it Visual?

Does the learning path look mostly like bullet points and paragraphs? Does it sound mostly like expert talking heads? Not good. Lots of language tends to slow things down and muddy them up. 

Collaborative designers aim to prototype – to evoke sensibly – their systems in focus and/or ways forward. In short, they aim to "show". This is not only because we are immersed today in our visual SNS, smartphones, videos and TV. Professional co-workers in global organizations often do not speak the same first language. This is why, for collaborative design work, they rely less on prose and grammar, and more on lucid, logical models. 

It is thus no surprise that conventional, project management work products such as WBS and Gantt chart are visual systems models. So are agile's burn down charts and Kanban boards. 

In Cogent Language offerings, explanations and task work are set out by way of diagrams, tables, and other structural models corresponding to those used in the operating world of collaborative design and global projects. In the tasks, participants (and instructor) are typically using or making visual systems models, on whiteboards, mobile devices, or prototypes, in appropriate media (including just plain paper). 

6. Is it Personal?

After starting down the learning path to collaborative systems practice, will you have meaningful choices about the selection, sequence and scope of your learning activities? Or is your path unitary and pre-determined? Not good again. 

If the learning isn't personal, it isn't cogent. Project based learning in collaborative systems practice should give you significant choices about what topics you want to focus on, what systems you want to design, and how. How else can your learning stay connected with your ideals and realities? 

"Buy-in" drives motivation and learning. It comes largely from participants having meaningful options about topics and participation. "Getting their way" is not a distraction or side-trip. It is skin in the game that accelerates learning and improves the design work that people do.  

For this reason, participants in Cogent Language courses need not move in lock-step. Rather, multiple learning paths are offered. So, after you sign up, you have meaningful choices about specific topics and learning activities. You have options among worksites to work on in a course, and  options in any given worksite enabling you to tailor templates and workflow to your needs and preferences. Also, class size is small so that the course coach can really coach, helping you and/or your team along a learning path fit to your resources, constraints, and goals.