Project management training goes Hollywood!
Stephen L. Cabano is manager of the International Project Management Academy, an organization offering customized project management and team building workshops around the world for the construction industry. Steve is an active member of the Project Management Institute and of the American Society for Training and Development. He earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania. Steve is an avid sports fan who enjoys skiing and offshore fishing.
‘All trends indicate a major project overrun. We better make some changes fast, ” says John P. Dowright, project manager of XYZ Corporation.
Cut. Take camera two.
“John, I told you we needed to modify the schedule from the beginning, you didn't listen. I think it maybe too late, ” responds Project Controls Manager Ed Bell.
Cut. Take camera one again.
“A scope change at this point might make a difference. We have to cut costs or heads are gonna roll. What other options do we have?” asks John.
Dissolve to a graphic that asks the question of the class, “What would you do?”
Welcome to the world of Project Management training via video...
Project management has gone Hollywood! Or should I say, gone video. Video use in project management training and education is now so widespread worldwide, that many consider it to be the communications medium of the ‘90s and beyond.
During the mid-1980s, the business world realized the value of video as a form of communication and incorporated it into their day-to-day operations. As video technology grew and costs decreased, videotape machines and video cameras were soon replacing overhead projectors and chalkboards throughout training facilities.
With today's video sophistication merging with the phenomenal advances in computer technology and telecommunications, the infrastructure to communicate through video is not only soundly in place, but is the eventual communications medium of the future.
Project managers can take advantage of the numerous benefits that video has to offer by introducing its use in the classroom in the form of video training. Video has the power to stimulate interest and to engage the viewer where a “typical” lecture format may not. Its use can be generic in nature—stimulating new ideas or consolidating major learning points or, it can be extremely focused—providing in-depth information on one specific topic.
Video can also “transport” the viewer to a place or time that an individual would normally find difficult, or impossible, to get to and view firsthand. This could save both travel expenses and time, while still providing the project manager with a similar experience on which to base judgments. Simulated “what if” scenarios allow the classroom to diagnose hypothetical or real problems without having to travel to the site in question. This also eliminates any possible safety considerations if the problem or site in question is in some dangerous, remote area. When combined with the guidance of a project manager acting as a teacher, these videos help guide student and/or client response as well as stimulate problem solving by providing concrete representations of real life situations.
The ability to stop and start or pause and replay a video, allows students more flexibility in learning at their own pace. Supplemented with classroom guidance, video training provides the vehicle for a higher level of comprehension and a more interesting delivery of the specific principles and practices being taught.
There are three types of video training used in teaching project management disciplines today and a fourth that is about to revolutionize classroom training as we know it.
- “Market” produced videos consist of pre-packaged, off-the-shelf productions that present the viewer with a generic background of a specific discipline.
- Video tape recording and “video feedback” allow the viewer to have more of a participant's role in the actual production of the video, recording individuals or groups of people for later analysis and critique during playback.
- “Learner” produced video recordings give the individual total control over the content and production of the video. Teamwork is stressed during this process, encouraging the group to define roles and principles of a topic during the production of the video.
- The newcomer to the video training scene is “interactive video” now available due to the merging of computer technology with video. The television talks back to you, providing instant response feedback to questions posed. Response commands or icons in a video program, when activated, guide the trainee through a video course.
This technology, when combined with other advances in telecommunications, will produce what many have labeled as the “electronic information superhighway.” This mega-industry is expected to generate $3.5 trillion worldwide by the year 2001. Virtually everything will be accessible instantly.
One could speculate that in the near future project managers will take video training to the next level—a hands-on form of “personal training” at the project site. By dialing into the home office computer from project sites around the world via laptops—project managers will electronically access standard operating procedures and video project scenarios on-line. The vast project information available will be stored in a central data base where current and historical data can be accessed around the clock, with no restrictions to time zones. The computer will formulate options to deal with project problems, then download video transmissions of all vital information to the project managers. The project manager can now view the consequences of their actions before implementation as well as a wealth of historical data on similar problems. Of course, the final decision for action will still rest with the project manager, who will have concrete “visual” information to help formulate decisions without traveling to the home office or other project sites for a data gathering session. The PM also will be able to interact with home office senior staff if computer options do not cover the situation satisfactorily.
To complete the “video training” process, the project manager will modem his results into the home office computer, including video footage of the project site and problem situation. That information and video footage now becomes available instantaneously to other project managers to access, and help in the formulation of their problem.
Businesses worldwide realize that to remain competitive they will have to adapt their services to accommodate and take advantage of the “electronic information revolution.” Video training will be the norm in a not-so-distant world, and its use today can help set the groundwork for a smooth transition into the future. Hollywood has definitely come to the project management classroom and will be coming to the project site. As project managers, we have a “starring” role.
Reaching the four corners of the world … the International Project Management Academy (IPMA), a division of Pathfinder, Inc., has been dedicated to the teaching of customized project management courses and team building workshops for the construction industry since 1977. Courses deal with today's challenging business and technical environment, providing project management training to corporate project teams responsible for the management and support of every project phase.
IPMA course directors and instructors are practicing professionals who customize project-specific training programs unique to each client situation. This translates into participant satisfaction, retention and improved skill application. Courses cover strategic planning and project conception through the full array of project execution phases including technology selection, scope definition, engineering, contracting, procurement, construction, commissioning and start-up activities.
Courses are offered from the fundamental principles of project management through advanced, sophisticated application techniques and designed and presented incomplete confidentiality. Courses or entire training programs are adjusted to meet the needs of a particular industry. In addition, a data gathering session is conducted before each course, enabling the instructors to better understand a company's philosophy and to target specific corporate needs.
Utilizing the latest in video and computer support technology, the learning cycle is shortened while increasing the level of comprehension for participants. Instructors bring real-life case studies into the classroom, transforming it into a dynamic, panoramic simulation work center. With mobile video production capabilities, participants are stimulated by interactive exchange, and role playing that brings them face-to-face with real project situations.
PMI research shows project teams that draw from an array of perspectives and skillsets deliver powerful outcomes.