Lunch With Tom: Thoughts on PM Degrees and Fear of Failure

Post by Tom


 1) If you are considering a PM degree, seek a college that is recognized by the PMI Global Accreditation Center GAC.

 2) If paralyzed to act due to a fear of failure, ask yourself what really is the worst that can happen and decide if the risk and its likelihood is a cost you can pay.

 Last time I wrote about a personal risk I took in attempting to repair my Palm TX problem on my own. This installation I’ll talk about the risk of starting on the path towards PMP certification. I do this in hopes that others will consider taking more risk in their lives, which may lead to personal and perhaps businesses and communities as well.

 I have questioned why I would want a PMP certification when I have a Master of Project Management degree. Won’t I be wasting my free time and money? Furthermore, if I apply for the certification, I have to invest a lot of time to document my experience, with the possible further hassle of an audit? I also pay to take an exam I might fail – that doesn’t worry me as much as it’s a matter of reviewing my course materials and the PMBOK (the Project Management Body of Knowledge codifies globally accepted best practices for overseeing projects).

 My decision to take the leap was learning that PMI recognized my degree worthy of some job experience. PMI has a Global Accreditation Center (GAC) that evaluates a college’s program quality regarding project management education.

 It took about 12 hours and one help desk ticket to compile and submit the application and payment. PMI expects your experiences to reflect all five project management process groups (Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closure). For a bachelors or masters degree, 4500 hours must be documented. The GAC accredited degree reduced the hours requirement to 3000. The online application didn’t have a built-in function to provide the 1500 hour discount, but the PMI help desk provided a prompt workaround.

 I had a discussion with Scott Fabel regarding the audit process. He was audited and survived, though having the “Congratulations you’ll be audited!” message sent after submitting his credit card payment was not the best surprise he received. I thought about that as I submitted my own payment … what’s the worst that can happen? It’s about a 1 in 100 chance of being audited and my luck is usually a little above average. I was not one of ‘the chosen’, and there was much rejoicing!


 Sync Session

 Sales and motivational expert Brian Tracy has been the topic of discussion recently here at CAI. My first encounter with him was with his tape series The Psychology of Achievement sometime after I graduated college back in the mid 80’s. One of his general rules for achievement was (to paraphrase) to determine what it is you want, and then resolve to pay whatever price is necessary to achieve it. Many years later, the advice seems to apply. The advice from the first module from Catalyst (CAI’s Accelerated Leadership Training Program) helps learners understand themselves and the roles of leaders and managers. Leadership tends to move us and others out of our comfort zones. This includes looking at our environments. In context of making this decision, the PMP certification continues to gain credibility across the globe, and in IT organizations. It may also help me lead changes within my own company.

 In determining whether the PMP certification was what I wanted, I listed the reasons why I’d want one:

 * Help with future promotions

* Help with future job searches

* Help with future projects

* Help gain credibility as a project management training WBT author

* Get new business cards

…and so forth

 As for the price to pay, well PMI already has my money. It’s a sunken cost and I can forget about that aspect of risk and focus on studying. I’ve taken enough exams in life and am sure I’ll do well as long as I take a guided approach and learn a little about the PMP exam itself.

 Incidentally, one of the biggest reasons for failure to take risks or to kill bad projects is sunken costs. I encourage all readers to think about what decisions or fears are held hostage by factoring in what has already happened and cannot be changed.

 Yours truly,

Tom Swider

“I may have been born yesterday, but I still went shopping.”

— Scott Thompson as “Buddy Cole”


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