Project Management

Do You Have To Learn Traditional Project Management First?

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 [email protected]. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Someone recently asked me if I knew of a traditional project management course for people who were going to be agile PMs. It seemed like a strange question, so I figured I should try and understand a bit more about the situation.

Turns out that the company in question had determined that it wanted all its new project managers to understand traditional approaches to delivering projects and agile methods. Its logic was that it would be increasing the number of projects delivered with both approaches in the next few years, as well as committing to more hybrid projects that have elements of both. It wanted PMs who were comfortable in both disciplines.

I couldn’t fault any of that reasoning, but the next thing I was told caused me some confusion. The company felt that it had to train new PMs on traditional project delivery methods first because that was the only way to give them a solid foundation in project management principles.

When I asked the person to explain that a bit more, they told me that because agile doesn’t have any planning or processes, the company was worried that PMs who learned that approach first would consider traditional project techniques as unnecessary and wouldn’t understand the importance of structure.

Now, I accept that agile prioritizes other elements of delivery over planning and processes, but that’s not the same as …

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