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Topics: Career Development, Talent Management, Using PMI Standards
How Can Theory Help Improve Project Management Practice?
The gap between theory and practice exists, and I think that all project managers are aware of that.
But as project manager what do you think is the size of the gap big or small?
What is the real percentage of the the theory and the real percentage of the practice and acquired experience that you use in daily basis?
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Dear Alexandre,

I do not think there is a considerable gap between theory and actually practice. In project management there is a gap between project manager with diverse skills implementing projects in different sector using different methodologies and project managers who use the same methodology to deliver projects. There exists a limit to stepping outside the box and trying something different as the organizations has grown around the PMO and vice versa. The PMBOK has been refined by many contributors from a broad set of rules and processes to deliver projects to a framework that project managers use to guide their projects. However if there is no need to step beyond a particular approach then a project manager finds themselves in a safe zone with no incentive to push the boundaries of the possible.

Daire
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1 reply by Alexandre Costa
Feb 15, 2020 12:33 PM
Alexandre Costa
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Daire,

Although i agree with you that the gap between the project managers and the skills they have to implement in a project has a great influence. I Believe that the gap between the theory and the practice is greater than you think. If the contributors thought that the gap was irrelevant or minimal, they were not reviewing the PMBOK, i know that the world changes , but changes every single day so theory is always some steps back from practice.

Thanks for sharing you opinion
Alexandre
Feb 15, 2020 9:28 AM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
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Theory helps to provide perspectives, insights and ways forward. That's what we get from reading books. Learning comes when you try to apply the theory (and fail, and try again).

The more perspectives you have available, as a team the more diverse you are, the more you are confident to be able to tackle all disruptions they may come.
Thomas,

Thank you for sharing your opinion.

Alexandre
Feb 15, 2020 10:46 AM
Replying to Daire Guiney
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Dear Alexandre,

I do not think there is a considerable gap between theory and actually practice. In project management there is a gap between project manager with diverse skills implementing projects in different sector using different methodologies and project managers who use the same methodology to deliver projects. There exists a limit to stepping outside the box and trying something different as the organizations has grown around the PMO and vice versa. The PMBOK has been refined by many contributors from a broad set of rules and processes to deliver projects to a framework that project managers use to guide their projects. However if there is no need to step beyond a particular approach then a project manager finds themselves in a safe zone with no incentive to push the boundaries of the possible.

Daire
Daire,

Although i agree with you that the gap between the project managers and the skills they have to implement in a project has a great influence. I Believe that the gap between the theory and the practice is greater than you think. If the contributors thought that the gap was irrelevant or minimal, they were not reviewing the PMBOK, i know that the world changes , but changes every single day so theory is always some steps back from practice.

Thanks for sharing you opinion
Alexandre
...
1 reply by Daire Guiney
Feb 16, 2020 6:55 AM
Daire Guiney
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Dear Alexandre,

You must remember that theory will be based on the most ideal set of circumstance, make a lot of assumption about the existing structure so that it can cover all the possible outcomes that govern a PMO. As a result the PMBOK is not a mirror for every PMO that exists and a replica for every project that can be managed. So it is up to each project manager to customize according to use and the available resources that a project manager has to hand in order to complete a project. As a result this is not a knowledge gap but an approach to structuring content that has the most relevance to the widest possible audience. If contributors only looked at the most common PMO structures and scenarios they would probably not sell many books and it would not become a framework or methodology. Sometimes its important to to see the wood from the trees and tailor accordingly.

Daire
I think the gap between theory and practice is enormous, and that is exactly why agile principles have gained such attention.

Theory teaches us basic principles and application in an idealized setting. Reality is never ideal, and so we must always tailor our approach to the situation. Being grounded in the basic principles however, provides us with a set of values to steer our decision making towards the best possible solution in our own circumstances, even though we can't achieve an ideal solution.
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1 reply by Alexandre Costa
Feb 16, 2020 3:29 AM
Alexandre Costa
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Keith,

Thanks for sharing your opinion.

Alexandre
Alexandre

The gap can be as wide as you let it be or as narrow as you chose to make it. For me personally, I always combine knowledge with experience and the knowledge I acquire, goes beyond what I do and that’s how I always improve.

Knowledge combined with experience is a great recipe for long term success.

RK
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1 reply by Alexandre Costa
Feb 16, 2020 3:34 AM
Alexandre Costa
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Rami,

Knowledge doesn't hurts, and how much you get better prepared you stay, but is like my past in the army training is better, so the more you train the more prepared you are, but in reality there is no training that fully prepares you for the reality of the battlefield.

Thanks for sharing you opinion.
Alexandre
Another perspective:

Theory is planning, imagining the future

Practice is execution, dealing with the now

We do both

There are gaps, for each one of us differently. Closing the gaps means less surprises and disruptions.
There is no gap between theory and practice. When people state that is becuase they do not pay attention about what theory mean. Theory are ideas, are principles on which the practice of an activity is based but not the practice itself. On the other side, PMBOK, just in case we are talking about, is not a set of theories. As the PMBOK stated is a set of practices and tools that constitute best practices which does mean they can contribute to enhace the probability a project will achieve the objective just in case they are using. But it say nothing more about using it. Here comes the second problem: how much organizations before selecting a way to run projects perform the critical and often forgotten activity to select what best fit for the propose taking into account the current situation?. That´s the real problem. Nothing new. It has been covered in extension when business analyst role has been created long time before (1990) and then when it has been taken by the PMI.
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1 reply by Alexandre Costa
Feb 16, 2020 3:36 AM
Alexandre Costa
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Sérgio,

Thanks for sharing your casting experience and knowledge with us.

Alexandre.
Feb 15, 2020 2:13 PM
Replying to Keith Novak
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I think the gap between theory and practice is enormous, and that is exactly why agile principles have gained such attention.

Theory teaches us basic principles and application in an idealized setting. Reality is never ideal, and so we must always tailor our approach to the situation. Being grounded in the basic principles however, provides us with a set of values to steer our decision making towards the best possible solution in our own circumstances, even though we can't achieve an ideal solution.
Keith,

Thanks for sharing your opinion.

Alexandre
Feb 15, 2020 3:34 PM
Replying to Rami Kaibni
...
Alexandre

The gap can be as wide as you let it be or as narrow as you chose to make it. For me personally, I always combine knowledge with experience and the knowledge I acquire, goes beyond what I do and that’s how I always improve.

Knowledge combined with experience is a great recipe for long term success.

RK
Rami,

Knowledge doesn't hurts, and how much you get better prepared you stay, but is like my past in the army training is better, so the more you train the more prepared you are, but in reality there is no training that fully prepares you for the reality of the battlefield.

Thanks for sharing you opinion.
Alexandre
...
1 reply by Rami Kaibni
Feb 16, 2020 7:13 PM
Rami Kaibni
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That’s true and this is why is said: KNOWLEDGE combined with EXPERIENCE.

We live and learn everyday. Life is a long lesson.
Thomas,

Interesting perspective that analogy. Thanks for sharing with the community.

Alexandre
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