The current record for running a marathon is one hour, 59 minutes, and 40 seconds. So, the length of this workshop is considerably less, which stressed me out a bit when a new client requested the training and provided me the allotted time. I have needed at least three full days to go over knowledge areas, processes, tools and techniques, and so on in the past. And even know I am aware that project management can be whittled down to a few key components, explaining and ensuring all parties understand the concepts takes a while. However, it was a customer request, and I needed to accommodate them. So, the reason for the short timeframe is irrelevant. The important part for me was what can I gloss over and what do I need to emphasize.
The triple constraint, of course, offers us a great synopsis regarding what is key to project management. However, how can you forget or gloss over risks, stakeholders, resources, quality, and communication, to name a few? Of course, you cannot, but you can provide enough information to explain the concepts and instill interest in the participants to circle back and ask more questions later and/or do some research on their own. Additionally, by using their own projects as examples, there is an added incentive for them to want to learn more.
As it stands, our normal workshops typically run for four days since they are intended to provide the contact hours needed to pass the PMP and learn important skills. Still, even then, time goes by quickly, and there are topics, such as change management and risk management, which could take up a day. So, in this case, I looked at this new assignment as both a challenge and a learning experience, which I always try to do for my students. To that end, I had to make sure that the pre-course work and training material contained enough processes, tools, techniques, and templates to run a project successfully.
As I prepared the outline for this lightning speed course, I had to get over the impulse to include everything I know. And include everything crucial and obligatory, which meant, for example, paring down my beloved risk management to the basics of ensuring you always look for opportunities as well as threats. Further, that you provide accurate data regarding probability and impact, even if it means getting outside help until you develop and perfect your own sense or intuition regarding this topic.
The other component we used in preparing this short course was to specify the objectives and the metrics (i.e., success criteria) for the course. In other words, what and how can we accomplish in 90 minutes, as well as how will we know if the participants actually learned something valuable in the allotted time, and what will be the proof that these objectives were met. In the end, communication with the client representative revealed that the “tips” the students learned during a short period of time have already shown promise for the future.