Instructors sometimes use scenarios during project management training to paint a picture or propose solutions to a problem. It’s a technique that takes a little more time for students to work through than a standard presentation, but it can be tremendously helpful to project management professionals. Scenario training drops students into a project and lets them figure out how to fix whatever’s going on. These more in-depth sessions have some significant advantages, especially when they’re run with groups within a single PMO. If your organization has ever considered advanced scenario training, below are just a handful of the many benefits.
Recognize and fight normalcy bias. This is where PMP®s are used to watching projects happen in a certain way, and even when progress veers off track they either don’t see the extent to which things have gone astray or they underestimate the impacts the problem is likely to have. The more PMP®s can see scenarios where projects go wrong, the more likely they’ll spot signs of trouble in the real world and quickly get the situation under control.
Get better long-term perspective. Project teams get a tangible benefit when they can watch their actions play out as a scenario project progresses. The downstream impacts from any one decision may not be immediately obvious, a factor that sets project management professionals up for potential issues when they try to put new skills to use outside the classroom. Advanced scenario training gives students a safe environment in which to monitor results over a longer term.
Understand where entrenched processes or outdated methodologies may need to be changed. Similar to immersion training, an in-depth scenario session may give attendees better insight on why one or more aspects of their current project management approach may not be as effective as they’d like. Watching the results unfold in class are often very instructive in developing better protocols or embracing best practices more fully.
Encourage PMP®s to develop better contingency planning skills. Experience is a great educator, and it’s something instructors can often replicate on a limited scale during scenario training. How does the project progress when a contingency plan is implemented? Do additional problems crop up that should be incorporated next time? Scenario training is a great way to see where the team’s current approach may need tweaking.
Develop better crisis resolution skills. Material shortages and local labor disputes are just two types of show-stopping problems that can derail a project. In the supportive environment of the classroom, PMP®s immersed in scenario training have the opportunity to cultivate better approaches to solving crisis-level issues while also gaining exposure to a far wider range of potential problems they may encounter in the wild.
Identify team members’ strengths and weaknesses. Every project manager brings something to the table, and scenario training enables the rest of the team to see where their own knowledge gaps may be augmented by others on the team. With the luxury of time that scenario training affords, it’s much easier to spot what another PMP® does well and either learn to mimic those skills or at least figure out how they can be put to best use within the team.
Observe the way others respond to problems. Some people see a problem and immediately move into resolution mode. Others are more introspective, trying to gather information on the factors behind the problem before they move to action. Gaining a better understanding of how team members are likely to approach a problem during scenario training may enable PMP®s to better formulate their own strategies. This allows them to consciously partner up with a team member whose approach rounds out their own.
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