Practitioner Skills 4: Writing Case Studies

In the fourth and final article in this series, we take a look at the Project DPro Practitioner activity “Writing a Case Study”.  This a “Giving Back” activity.

Many Practitioner candidates may not have a written a case study previously. Here are some tips to help you write an interesting and informative summary of your case:

The word limit for this Practitioner activity is 500-1000 words. This is not a lot, so you will have to plan your case study carefully.

Most importantly, a Case Study is an opportunity to write a narrative account of your experiences. In comparison with more formal writing styles, narratives allow the writer to make use of description to create an image in the reader’s mind.

Descriptive writing appeals to the five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. While some of these may be inappropriate to your narrative, others will help you to paint a vivid picture of the situation you are describing. Consider the following two examples:

The end of project celebration was very enjoyable and people had a good time. (explanation)

And:

During the celebration people expressed their satisfaction with the results and their pride at the accomplishments of the project. Friends for life exchanged contact and details and people ate, drank and gave thanks before parting for their next challenges. (description)

See how the second paragraph paints a picture of a true celebration of hard work performed and targets reached. The reader can easily imagine how it would feel to be part of the celebration.

Descriptive writing can also help you to portray the cultural, social and environmental context of your case study. Also, you may wish to describe a particular issue or problem and how this was overcome – this can also be done with descriptive writing.

In your case study, you may wish to use a more formal style to discuss results and outcomes. These can be presented quantitively in the form of statistics, graphs and tables.            

We hope these tips help you as you write your case study and that this series of Practitioner Skills articles has provided effective guidance as you complete your Practitioner activity log.

Good luck with the rest of your Practitioner certification process!

Practitioner Skills 3: Giving Presentations

In the third article in this series, we take a look at the Project DPro Practitioner activity “Giving Presentations”.  This a free election “Giving Back” activity.

One of the ways to give back to the project management profession is to provide your peers with the benefits of your experiences and learning in the form of a presentation. For the purposes of the Project DPro Practitioner certification, presentations can be either to colleagues or local or community groups.

Many project managers are already very experienced in giving presentation; nevertheless, here are some tips for making the most of your presentations:

  1. Set specific objectives for your presentation. This will help you to avoid going off-topic.
  2. Less is more. Attention spans of listeners can be very short. Try and be as succinct as possible.
  3. Variety. People respond to stimuli in different ways. In order to attract the attention of every kind of person, make sure your presentation contains spoken, visual and written stimuli.
  4. If you are using written text, for example in PowerPoint, make sure you don’t simply read what is written down. Notes in presentation should be brief and allow you to embellish by adding more details.
  5. Questions at the end. Allowing questions during a presentation often risks breaking up the rhythm and losing focus. Allow people to ask questions but at the end of your presentation.
  6. Audience participation. While questions can be reserved for the end, you can plan other ways to actively engage your audience in the presentation. Suitable ways for audience collaboration include opinion polls and rating activities. As an added bonus, these strategies can foment deeper discussion at the end of the presentation.
  7. Round off your presentation with conclusions which encourage your audience to think about the topic further. A good tip here is to say something surprising or controversial.

If you follow these simple guidelines, your presentation will be a resounding success!

The last article in this Practitioner Skills series will discuss how to write a Case Study.

Until then, good luck with your Practitioner activities!

Practitioner Skills 2: Helping your peers

In the second article in this series, we take a look at the Project DPro Practitioner activity “Helping your peers”.  This a free election “Giving Back” activity and can be completed in a number of ways.

Perhaps the most obvious way in which we can help our peers is within the context of a formal mentoring relationship. Nevertheless, mentoring can work just as well on an informal basis. Mentoring could take place either face-to-face or online.

We suggest that before beginning to mentor someone you both agree upon the following parameters:

  • Establish the objectives of the mentoring activity
  • Set the timescale of the mentoring activity

This will help to avoid situation in which the mentoring process meanders indefinitely without an appropriate conclusion.

One suggested mentoring activity for Project DPro Practitioner candidates is to help colleagues or others in their quest to pass the Project DPro Foundation exam. Having experience of success during this process, Practitioner candidates are in the perfect position to guide and help their colleagues to achieve this aim. Guidance for passing the Project DPro Practitioner exam is also a good example of a helping or mentoring activity which need not require many hours to complete.

Just as planning is important to the mentoring process, so is bringing the activity to a conclusion. This need not be a formal review, rather an informal acknowledgement that the mentoring activity has come to a close and analysis of the benefits which it has brought to both parties.

In your quest to give back to other project management professionals, why not begin by visiting the DPro+ Mentoring Group?

In the next article, we will look at the Giving Back activity “Giving presentations”.

Practitioner Skills 1: Writing a book or article review

This is the first in a new series of articles designed to help candidates for the Project DPro Practitioner certification complete the tasks required by the activity log.

In the “Informal Learning” section of the activity log, candidates are required to write one book review and two article reviews. These reviews may be published on DPro+ in order to help fellow project managers decide whether these books or articles would be beneficial to their own learning.

So how do we write a good book or article review?

Firstly, let’s take a look at the information required by the activity log. For both books and articles the following information must be entered into the activity log.

  • Why did you choose this particular book/article?
  • What did you learn?

For books only, the following additional information is required:

  • What lessons from this book are helpful for other professionals?
  • How will you apply what you have learned? Give examples.

You will see that most of the information required by the log is descriptive in nature. The first question “Why did you choose this particular book/article?” should be straightforward to answer. Make a note of the reason before you begin reading.

For the second question, “What did you learn? ”, we suggest taking some notes as you make your way through the book. This will help you to easily remember what you have learned, but, in any case, note-taking is always a worthwhile exercise for any learning activity.

The two questions specific to the book review require a deeper thought process. The first of these asks candidates to contextualize their own learning through the prism of other project managers, especially those working in the development and humanitarian sectors. In itself, this causes people to consider whether the attained learning fills an individual knowledge gap or constitutes a subject which is misunderstood or undervalued in wider project management circles.

The final question asks candidates to specify how they will apply their learning in future. You might answer this question by creating an informal action plan so that you make a conscious effort to implement your new knowledge.

In the next article, we will look at the Giving Back activity “Helping your peers”.

Project DPro Practitioner level – The basics: Giving Back

In the final article of this series, we will analyze the third category or the Project DPro Practitioner certification: “Giving Back”.

Giving Back is the Project DPro Practitioner category which enables candidates to use their knowledge and expertise to give back to project management in the development and humanitarian sectors.

There are four Giving Back activities to carry out for the purposes of Project DPro Practitioner certification. These are:

  • Sharing a tool/process: which you have developed or modified.
  • Submit a case study article or video to DPro+, with details of a project you recently completed.
  • Free choice activity (2) (helps peers, give a presentation)

Sharing a tool requires candidates to share examples of how they have used project management tools and techniques in real life situations. Candidates can select one of the following tools to share:

  • Logframe or Logical Framework  
  • Problem or Objective Tree
  • RACI Matrix
  • Risk Register
  • Work Breakdown Structure
  • MEAL Plan
  • Venn Diagram
  • Network Diagram
  • Project Budget
  • Stakeholders Matrix
  • Communications Plan
  • Project Charter
  • Gantt Chart
  • Issues Log
  • Project Proposal

The Case Study activity allows you to give back to the project management community by giving people the benefit of the learning from your own contextual experiences.

Finally, the two Free Election activities enable candidates to choose from helping their peers or giving a presentation. Helping peers could include assisting people to attain Project DPro Foundation certification, and giving a presentation could be either in the workplace or to another local or community group.  

We hope you have enjoyed this series of articles breaking down the categories of Project DPro Practitioner certification, and that they have inspired you to begin your own Practitioner journey.

Project DPro Practitioner level – The basics: Informal Learning

In this article, we will analyze the second category of the Project DPro Practitioner certification process: “Informal Learning”.

Informal Learning activities demonstrate that candidates have implemented knowledge from the Project DPro Foundation certificate in real life scenarios.

There are six Informal Learning activities to carry out for the purposes of Project DPro Practitioner certification. These are:

  • Attending a webinar hosted by PM4NGOs or other relevant organization (2)
  • Book Review
  • Project Management article review (2)
  • Free choice activity (work event, organizational course, mentoring)

Each of these activities complements or deepens your knowledge of project management in development and humanitarian projects, building on the base provided by the Project DPro Foundation exam.   

Although preference is given to sessions hosted by PM4NGOs or our partners, candidates are able to choose two webinars relevant to project management in the development or humanitarian sectors. This allows candidates to choose content which they find to be of particular interest to themselves.

The Book Review activity enables you to select a relevant text of interest and analyze its content. Similarly, the two Article Reviews allow you to do the same with smaller texts or documents.

Finally, there is a Free Election activity which could be a work event, an organizational course or a mentoring activity. Candidates are free to choose which of these activities they would prefer to perform.

In the final article in this series we’ll take a look at the Giving Back section of Project DPro Practitioner.

Project DPro Practitioner level – The basics: Mini-courses

This article is the first of three to examine the required CPD areas of the Project DPro Practitioner certification: Mini-courses.

As you will know by now, DPro+ provides site members with a total of 36 mini-courses relating to each one of the Project and Program Management competencies listed in the Project DPro and Program DPro Guides. These courses were designed to assist Project Managers in their professional development subsequent to attaining the Project DPro Foundation qualification.

The Project DPro Practitioner certificate requires candidates to take a total of six Mini-courses. You must pick at least one from the four Project DPro categories:

  • Technical
  • Leadership/interpersonal
  • Personal/self-management
  • Development sector specific

However, exactly which mini-courses you select within these categories is up to you, and you are also free to elect two mini-courses from whichever category you choose. This is a good opportunity for you to address either areas of particular interest for you or areas in which you feel you could use a little extra study.

DPro+’s mini-courses are free to take and each has an expected duration of around two hours. We at PM4NGOs encourage you to take the Practitioner certification according to your own workload and schedule. Nevertheless, the mini-courses could be completed over a number of weeks or within just a couple of days.

In the next article, we’ll take a look at the informal learning section of Project DPro Practitioner.

To find out more visit the Project DPro Practitoner menu.

Project DPro Practitioner: Self-study or guided by a trainer?

Now you have decided to attain your Project DPro Practitioner certification you will need to choose whether to take charge of your own learning process or contact a mentor for help.

Self-study

All of the information you need in order to pursue Practitioner certification under your own steam is available on DPro+.

You will decide when to study, what resources to use and you will take charge of ensuring that you perform all of the activity log tasks within either the final time limit or your desired period of time.

To begin, go to the Project DPro Practitioner menu bar.

Training organization

PM4NGOs has a number of training partners who can guide you through the activities required to become a Project DPro Practitioner.

If you prefer to be mentored towards your Practitioner certification, we recommend you contact one of these training partners.

These trainers will show you how to complete activity log tasks and recommend specific resources to help you on your Practitioner journey.

The list of training partners offering mentoring services for the Project DPro Practitioner certification can be found at the main website do PM4NGOs.  

Project DPro Practitioner: Begin your journey today!

The Project DPro suite of certifications is changing!

We have changed PMD Pro Level 1 to Project DPro Foundation level and PMD Pro Level 2 to Project DPro Practitioner level.

This is far more than just a name change.

As previously, Project DPro Foundation level remains a multiple choice examination of your knowledge of the Project DPro Guide.

However, replacing the PMD Pro Level 2 exam is a new certification based around Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

To gain your Practitioner certification you will perform activities in the following three CPD areas:

  • Mini-courses related to Project DPro competencies
  • Informal learning
  • Giving Back

By completing your activity log for these three areas you will prove not only your in-depth knowledge of Project DPro but also your acquired experience in the field of Project Management.

To find out more, visit the Project DPro Practitioner menu bar.

By pursuing Project DPro Practitioner level accreditation you can boost your CV and enhance your job prospects.

Start down the road of becoming a Project DPro Practitioner today!

Leadership Series No.3: Key leadership traits

The third article in our leadership series takes a look at the characteristics associated with leadership.  

What are the traits that make a successful leader?

Clearly, there are many important aspects, and some will be valued above others according to the particular context. In this article, I’ll examine multiple perspectives on the key traits of leadership, to identify those behaviors that are most commonly acclaimed. The three management authors and speakers discussed are Deep Patel (Forbes, 11 powerful leadership traits), LearningREADefined (7 key traits of leadership), and Brian Tracy (7 qualities of good leaders).

Leadership Traits

Deep Patel (Forbes) (forbes.com)LearningREADefinedBrian Tracy (briantracy.com)
Having a vision for the futureProactive attitudeVision
Being accountable and responsibleAre accountableIntegrity
Being and Effective CommunicatorRadiate positive energyFocus
Acting StrategicallyDelegate tasks completelyStrategic planning
Creating lasting relationshipsAre approachableCooperation
Teambuilding and promoting teamworkDo what they expect of othersHumility
Setting clear goals and persisting in achieving themAre decisiveCourage
Self-Managing  
Managing complexity  
Fostering creativity and innovation  
Learning agility  

Analysis highlights the many similarities between these independent lists. The emerging themes are: Vision, Accountability, Strategic planning, Teambuilding and Decision-making.

Vision: Also a key Project DPro competency (12), Vision is the ability to contemplate the future. In this sense, Vision is closely linking to strategic planning as it entails finding time among the day-to-day management of operational issues to think about and plan for the future.

Accountability: Taking accountability and responsibility is another common trait. Author and motivational speaker Brian Tracy prefers the term Integrity, which invokes a sense of honesty and transparency.

Strategic planning: Deep Patel’s more substantial list of leadership qualities includes Managing complexity and Learning agility, but another common element is that of strategic action/planning.

From a Teamwork perspective, we can link LearningREADefined’s “Do what they expect of others” to the “Humility” extolled by Brian Tracy and Deep Patel’s “Creating lasting relationships” to reveal an interpretation of leading people as setting an example among equals. Moving away from the Organizational hierarchy, leaders nurture and foster relationships from a long-term perspective.

Finally, Decision-making. The emphasis here is on being timely and decisive. Leaders won’t always have the benefit of all the information necessary to make an easy decision, but, according to Tracy, they must have the “Courage” of their convictions.           

Next time, we’ll look at leadership in adversity.

How to be a great leader – The 7 Great Leadership traits (LearningREADefined)  

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