Learn From the Past, Adapt for the Future

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

When I’m talking to groups of project managers, I often speak about the importance of experience. You can have all the project management education and training in the world, but until you combine your PM skills with the experience of leading projects, you’ll never be able to grow in the profession.

I know that’s not the greatest thing for new project managers to hear because they don’t yet have that experience, but I have some good news for you: The secret to success is not simply the experience itself, it’s the ability to apply that experience to current situations. And in that regard, new PMs have an advantage.

Let me explain what I mean. Experience provides context for project managers. It is something they can relate their current situation to and mentally say, “I know what’s happening here; it’s like the thing that happened on Project X.” It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about building a plan, dealing with a risk, solving a technical problem or handling a difficult team member; the sense of having been through something similar in the past helps you prepare for handling the current situation.

Of course, the more projects you have been involved with, the more experience you gain—and the greater the chance of having been through something similar to the current situation. That’s what …

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"The reason why worry kills more people than hard work is that more people worry than work."

- Robert Frost

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