This means that a fair amount of time is devoted to meta-learning (learning about learning). During the first module (the Intensive Workshop in Project Management), we explain why we approach things in certain ways. We encourage questions about the rationale behind every technique or method—right down to why we chose that venue, why we use such unusual learning materials, and why we went so far as to design and build our own Collaboration Tables.
Participants in an Intensive Weekend Workshop
work together at custom-built Collaboration Tables.
The idea isn’t just to encourage participants to develop effective study habits (although that certainly is one of the important aims of the Project Management Concepts course). The purpose is actually also for participants to start thinking like leaders or facilitators of other people’s learning.
Why is this particularly important in Project Management?
There are a number of reasons, but for now, we’ll focus on two.
The nature of projects
Projects are, by definition, unique.
Hence, frequent project work means we’ll often find ourselves in new situations, working with new people and facing new challenges. This is where we not only have to learn quickly ourselves, but we also have to facilitate other people’s learning. Safety inductions, project briefings, quickly training people to perform tasks or to work with your processes—all these are situations where project leaders need to lead the learning.
This is why it’s important to learn how learning works, to learn what supports learning, and to learn why different people learn differently. We never stop learning.
Team empowerment and business improvement
Improving the steps, methods and procedures we follow in projects improves the management of projects. It allows project teams to make more effective use of time and resources, to achieve more, and to produce work which is of a better quality.
Some types of projects can be even be operationalised. In other words, instead of being sets of unique activities, they can be turned into operations: standardised, streamlined, predictable, easily repeatable sets of activities, which constitute “business as usual”.
To improve things at work, to set a new course, to streamline processes—all this requires insightful contributions from ordinary people who have learned to practice critical thinking and systems thinking contextually and habitually.
An enabling environment must be established, where it’s easy for people to report risk and to come up with better ways of doing things. The place of work must be transformed into what Peter Senge calls a Learning Organisation.
By learning about how to learn, and by picturing yourself in the position of a collaborative learner and a leader of learning, you’re taking the first steps towards this important transformation.