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Learning To Speak Project Management: An Air Assault!
Every week I host a free webinar for military Veterans. During these lively, interactive 120-minute webinars, we do two main things. First, we describe and discuss the meaningful, lucrative opportunity project management presents to them based on their military training, abilities, conditioning, and talents. Second, we help them translate military missions into commercially viable project summaries they can use on their PMP® application, their resumes, and in their job interviews. This ability to translate military experience into something a civilian hiring manager recognizes, understands, and will pay for neutralizes a big transition hurdle Veterans have faced for generations.
Every 2 weeks, I will showcase a recently-translated mission-based project summary from these Missing TAP Class© webinars here on LinkedIn. It should prove fun, informative, stimulating, and productive. I hope to field many questions from you, both in the comments below and during our weekly Missing TAP Class© webinar found at Vets2PM.com.
1) The Framework
The Project Management Institute provides a three component framework consisting ofA Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge®, the situational-based PMP® exam, and the PMP® Examination Content Outline (PMPECO).
The PMBOK® Guide provides the how-to, the PMPECO provides the what (i.e. the tasks), and the PMP® provides validation of the two for the Veteran project manager.
2) The Tools
We use an Excel spreadsheet capture and manage the Veteran project manager’s experience for the PMP® application, a Word document containing a dozen or so completed project summaries written by Veterans and accepted by PMI, and paper and pen.
3) The Process
Step one of the three-step process is to jot down five to ten reflective, conversational statements about a mission you’ve planned, led, communicated about, and closed out. Missions are synonymous with projects. Step two is review the project activities contained in the tables found on pages 5-12 of the PMP Examination Content Outline. Step three consists of synthesizing the two sets of statements. This process produces a detailed, succinct, cogent project summary that is in a language familiar to many a civilian hiring manager, Project Management. Watch!
4) This Installment’s Example: A Helicopter Air Assault!
Since missions and projects share the same definition (temporary endeavors that produce unique results, goods, services, or capabilities), this means we can translate them into commercially viable project summaries.
To do that, we use the project activities found in the PM on they’d like to translate. An Army Chief Warrant Officer rogers up with “Let’s do a helo air assualt”! Somebody else immediately follows that with a loud, guttural “Airborne”!. Then I give ’em a “HOOAH”!
As the pilot begins to provide his five to ten reflective statements, I copy them down on my paper. We arrived at the following reflective statements…” Receive the mission from headquarters and  begin answering who, what, where, when, why.  Describe team inserting to determine skills, gear, abilities necessary to accomplish the mission.  Begin gathering project data such as weather, light, enemy, routes, pilots, and hazards.  They presented the plan and received approval, then they  flew the mission, inserted and extracted the team as planned, and  managed risks the entire time. Upon returning, they  briefed the leadership on the mission, conducted an after action review of how the mission went, and collected lessons learned”.
We then picked out Tasks (i.e. project activities) for Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.
Task 2 in Initiating concerns identifying key deliverables based on business requirements and identifying project goals and stakeholder expectations so they can be planned for and managed during project work. It matched up nicely with statement  above.
In Planning, task 4 focuses on developing a schedule that considers project scope, resources, and milestones. Statements [1, 2, 5, 6, 8] all represent schedule milestones.
For Executing, the group liked task 1, which is all about acquiring and managing project resources, to include the Sailors doing the project work and the tools and materials they need to do it. Statements [3 and 4] fit this bill nicely.
In Monitoring and Controlling, statements [2 and 7] represent task 6 nicely, as this task is concerned with collecting lessons learned intra-project to continuously improve performance.
Finally, for Closing, the group liked task 7, which linked up nicely as we documented project and team member performance, collected lessons learned, and filed all paperwork.
Our ultimate summary came out something like this…
Initiated project by gathering requirements, identifying milestones and deliverables, and holding the project kick-off meeting with the Sponsor. Planned procurement and human resources based on identified tasks, standards, and skills and proficiencies. Executed project schedule meeting all milestones. Continuously assessed team performance and risk exposure and reported project status to stakeholders. Met all project objectives, expanding the organizations footprint, and archived team performance paperwork and issued awards and citations.
There we have it Gang! We just translated a uniquely military mission, a helo-borne air assault, into a commercially viable project! The listening civilian hiring manager would only hear a project manager speaking, not an Army aviator!
The value in this ability, and the product it produces, your project management resume, is immense! Civilians know what to do with project managers and how much to pay them! When you’re speaking Project Management, you are completely familiar to them! You just overcame the language barrier that’s been dogging our military transitions since Legionnaires left the Roman Legions!
Eric is a decorated two-Service, two-Era US Military Veteran; Serial Founder; experienced, credentialed project manager and PMI Chapter-recognized mentor; and an entertaining instructor/public speaker on project management, deep learning and the military transition, PMI’s PMP® and CAPM® exams, Vetrepreneurship; and project manager development. He helps Military Veterans change their lives profoundly through project management, entrepreneurship, and AI through inspiration, translation, training, and placement. For more information, please visit https://vets2pm.com, www.militaryvetstone.com, and www.linkedin.com/in/docwright2012.