Project Management

Why 'Chalk and Talk' Is an Obsolete Training Model

Stephen currently works in commissioning projects in the oil and gas industry.

Project managers have traditionally been trained in the classroom on a dedicated training course. But new learning models have been developed—particularly using technology—that have led to much more effective methods.

Practicing Between the Lessons
Like many children, I had piano lessons and hated them. I could never understand why I was forced to practice between lessons. I realized years later that you don't learn in the lesson, you learn in the practice between the lessons—and so it is with project management.

I started out training project managers because I was a manager of a department of PMs and I wanted to give them a head start (as with some professional training that I had been given). This led to a training career.

For many years, I was happily running four-day project management training courses, telling small groups of people everything they needed to know to run a successful project. Over time, I met some of them later and asked how they had got on—and the results were not encouraging. I realized that we were presenting a kind of “whole shooting match” perspective. They felt that had to use the whole of the material or none at all.

The other problem for attendees was simply remembering the content. It's generally recognized that the half-life of an idea that's not used is about 24 hours. Another problem …

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