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Project Knowledge Management in PM – Time for Change

Last month’s blog discussed the project manager’s role in sharing PM knowledge with stakeholders as a means for creating an organic learning process. This month I will opine about the broader issue of knowledge management in the realm of project management.

PM Learning Historical Perspective

Before the 1990s most project managers were trained on the job through a combination of coaching and self discovery. The very largest projects, particularly in aerospace, engineering and construction used “professional” PM methods. Out of this experience has grown a cadre of professional PMs and practitioners who have evolved Agile and other approaches to managing projects to improve the probability of project success.

Knowledge management is an integral part of project management (KM). The knowledge consists of information about current performance (e.g., status reports, risk registers, etc.), information about the process (e.g., methodologies, best practices, tutorials, etc.) and information on past performance (e.g., estimating data bases, project archives, etc.)

Process Learning

The process information is at the heart of performance improvement. In the past, the principle approach here has been formal training and relatively rigid methodologies. This is changing and hopefully changing quickly. Would-be project managers can learn the basics with self paced courses but can only learn the realities in practical, well facilitated workshops and through ongoing dialogues with their peers and experts in the field.

Advanced PM

Advanced PM training has been pretty much a joke, with training providers offering up academic courses in the various areas of knowledge. How many PMs actually need an advanced risk course? Advanced learning in PM is about application, not academics. We need workshops and coaching blended with self-paced options for academic information and just-in-time sharing for best practices and specific how-to’s.

Knowledge management is the discipline that seeks to find the best way to share knowledge in the organization. Learning and development is a significant part of KM but certainly not the whole. KM is the realm of taxonomies to organize knowledge, technologies to collect and distribute knowledge and support social computing, and governance, editing and filtering to make sure the knowledge being shared is accurate and relevant and being used.

Consciously engineered KM reduces the burden on the PM to educate everyone on PM benefits, principles and responsibilities. The PM is still responsible for creating and maintaining a learning environment in his/her project but this is far easier when there is an organization-wide structure in place, supported by effective content.

What are you doing to integrate KM into your PM process?

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George Pitagorsky

George Pitagorsky, integrates core disciplines and applies people centric systems and process thinking to achieve sustainable optimal performance. He is a coach, teacher and consultant. George authored The Zen Approach to Project Management, Managing Conflict and Managing Expectations and IIL’s PM Fundamentals™. He taught meditation at NY Insight Meditation Center for twenty-plus years and created the Conscious Living/Conscious Working and Wisdom in Relationships courses. Until recently, he worked as a CIO at the NYC Department of Education.

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