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6 October 2008

To all the PM Students

Dear students,

Bas de Baar asked me what it was that I hope you take home from my classes.

Of course I want you to take away knowledge that will get you through an exam and into the workforce.  But I also want you to take something else away.

And that is the awareness that book knowledge, and even real world experience is worth very little compared to a passion and interest in what you are doing.

If you are (or have been) sitting through a pm class because it is a mandatory subject, and what you really want to do is code I hope learning about project management helps you understand the stakehodlers, customers and context of the work you are doing, and that as a result you are able to do better work.

If you are actually interested in learning about managing projects and want to do it for a job/career, then I want you to realise that the technical skills, while important, are only part of the picture.  And that it is crucial to understand people, "their goals and aspirations" and all the social, political and cultural issues that get in the way of doing good work.

In the PM classes I deliver I just mention this as an aside from time to time, but I do raise it consistently, and hope that it settles into your brain, so that one day, a few years from now, you realise that you need to put down the gannt chart and pick up the phone, go visit someone or otherwise act to improve the relationship you have with your project stakeholders.

Good luck with it.  Project management is hard, weird and exhausting.  But it can also be very rewarding.

Now, having said that, as a motivated and enthusiastic PM student, you should go over to the PMStudent website and register so you can start bogging about your learnings, reflections and experiences.  It will help you by making you reflect and structure your thoughst, and it helps others learn from your experiencs.  It's a great process for everybody involved.

Link: PM Student (and author registration page)