How many folk stories have you heard about project management? I have brushed up the list of them and allocated the top five project management myths that I heard most of the time, so let’s buster them together.
[Originally I have created this article for PM Column – A Creative Magazine for Digital Project Managers – LINK]
Where PM myths are coming from
There are tons of tales about project management, and people got used to believing in them, especially if they are not familiar with this craft. When you hear the ridiculous stories from people who are not even close to project management, the best thing you can do is to have fun about it. However, when some project managers believe in these myths themselves, this is a warning sign of diving into a negative professional adventure.
Like many fairy tales, project management myths were born by the public who are either not well informed or who do not have a common experience. When you know this field inside-out, such stories are perceived with humor. But how to surpass this absurdity if you cannot match it with your record? Let’s have a look at the five most common myths I’ve met in my career and buster them together.
#1. Pro PMs have no failed projects behind
That is one of my favorite and the most ridiculous beliefs I have ever heard. What if I tell you when I was learning to walk in my childhood I have never fallen down? I think you would not believe this as everybody is falling down when they are making their first steps. And guess what, same is here.
When you are starting your professional career and beginning to obtain the project management domain, most likely you do not know everything about the processes, documentation, possible risks, and issues. And what is more important, you do not have experience yet to define common cases just by the smell.
Experience is a vital element in this picture. You are getting wiser during life, and you are getting more skilled during the professional experience. Failures are a big part of this journey. Otherwise, if you have not had any failures behind you would not know how to make things better.
Therefore, if someone tells me they never had failed projects or milestones behind, I would consider this either a fake or that the person does not have enough experience. So, having failures is not bad, this is natural in the professional path. However, the crucial thing here is to acknowledge the mistakes, to learn the lessons, and to act wiser next time.
#2. You can’t get certified without experience
Absolutely false. To be honest, I believed in this myth too and even set up goals to earn the years of professional experience in order to get the desirable certification. The problem here is in lack of knowledge regarding the professional certs. I would even say that many people think the first available certifications are not valuable as they do not require having a professional record behind. Again, this is not true. For every certification, you need to study, and this is the key.
Even if you do not have enough experience under your belt, you will get the relevant knowledge which you will be able to apply. And believe me, having a professional knowledge confirmed by the professional certification adds you a lot of points for you in comparison with those who have not invested in themselves yet. Here you could find information and comparison of the popular certifications that are available for the raising PMs.
#3. The project manager is responsible for everything on a project
This is a convenient point for those who do not want to take over any responsibility. Obviously, project managers hold accountability, they plan, direct, and oversee all the work, make decisions, report about the progress, and take care of the project team and vendor communication. However, could a project manager be responsible for the failed code review, law experience of a teammate, or a vendor who has failed to deliver the materials timely?
What I am trying to say is that every project is collaborative teamwork, and no project is delivered by only a project manager. This means everybody on a project is responsible for the project outcome, both for the failure and for the success.
#4. The project manager always knows better
How many people know everything? Meaning, every project manager usually has a number of projects in his or her record which may significantly differ from each other. And the good practice we follow is engaging subject matter experts. Therefore, project managers are not the SMEs for the project, or if they have not done the same project before, chances are that there are people more skilled or experienced in this topic. This is not good or bad, simply a reality.
In fact, when project managers act as subject matter experts, not in the project management field, most likely they are combining two or more roles. We are as project managers aiming to lead the project and the team to the best delivery outcome, collaborating and engaging with the right people who know the subject and who can bring value to the project. The good PM doesn’t always know better, but the good PM knows where to get people who know better.