TIPS & TECHNIQUES
Project Management - Art or Skill?
by Fumiko Kondo
How can organizations develop people with strong and effective project
management skills? Is a project manager someone whose potential can be identified and
developed systematically? This article provides a roadmap for identifying future project
managers and an approach for developing their capabilities.
In most organizations, project management is an unrecognized discipline; it is assumed that
one can become a project manager (PM) after demonstrating a talent as, say, a software
developer or business analyst. Thus, a stellar employee may become a PM with little
knowledge of what it takes to manage projects effectively. Too often, the result is that new
PMs find themselves unprepared for the role. Their first project fails to meet its goals, and
questions arise about whether they can handle subsequent projects.
There is a better way. Organizations should understand the qualities that make for
effective project managers, identify the right people for the job, and groom them
for the role.
The right stuff: nature or nurture?
Can people be trained to be a PM, or are the skills needed for project management
something one has innately and cannot really be taught?
For a PM, the “right stuff” has two components to it. As with most professions,
project management requires a technical skill set that one can learn through
training, but it also requires a particular set of behavioral traits that present a
challenge to training programs. The behavioral component can come with
experience, but not everybody has the personal qualities that make them prime
prospects. Organizations need to understand this if they are to develop strong
To be an effective PM requires the ability to plan projects, assess project status,
and identify issues of risk. These are skills that a person can learn.
Planning. The ability to plan means being able to identify the task that needs to be