In a Tech Republic article “10 highly valued soft skills for IT pros”, one of the ten soft skills was termed “a sixth sense about projects.” This intrigued me, given that project management consists of disciplined actions in the form of structured processes, although the vast majority of project success can be attributed to strong use of soft skills.
Here’s what the article said specifically, about this 3rd of 10 highly valued soft skills for IT pros:
3: A sixth sense about projects
There are formal project management programs that teach people PM methodology. But for most people, it takes several years of project management experience to develop an instinct for how a project is really going. Natural project managers have this sixth sense. In many cases, it is simply a talent that can’t be taught. But when an IT executive discovers a natural project manager who can “read” the project in the people and the tasks, this person is worth his/her weight in gold.
Project management is like any field, where skills are honed for a few years, where you develop what is called that sixth sense, but what I think is a very common phenomenon. For example, an airplane pilot can get started by taking the controls, and find that the plane reacts rapidly to adjustments, and even in some cases adjustments have no effect or a different effect than expected. Such erratic behavior while riding up the learning curve is also more than common for a teenager learning to drive. Really, the same can be said about being a parent, or starting any new job.
I do believe that people have inherent strengths that they are, in part, born with. It is a predisposition to do something extremely well, usually to the detriment of something else where they have little talent in comparison! But I think this sixth sense in IT project management as mentioned in the article is something that, as long as the person has interest and acumen in project management, is a natural outgrowth of experience. Thus, I think it’s usually a matter of time and experience before a person can quickly react and know where to look for the likely problems…and demonstrate that “sixth sense”
For the full Tech Republic article, see “10 highly valued soft skills for IT pros.”
John Reiling, PMP
PM Training Online