According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), a project is a “temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.” This definition implies a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment with specific “one-off” goals and usually with unique challenges. Thriving in a project management environment requires a project manager mindset.

Qualities of a Project Management Mindset

A look at PMI’s Most Influential Projects list for 2020 highlights the cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary reach of projects across the globe.

From exploring the sun to finding a vaccine for COVID-19, projects have propelled the human imagination, fought a global pandemic, and touched on nearly every aspect of human endeavor. With a project manager mindset, professionals can lead the teams pushing forward the best ideas in our turbulent times.

What constitutes a project manager mindset? Here are four essential hallmarks:

  • Cool under stress: Projects are inherently stressful. Project managers take it in stride. They know to expect the unexpected. When unanticipated challenges arise, they remain calm and focused.
  • Fleet-of-foot: Knowing that unforeseen circumstances will arise, project managers employ creative thinking in quickly changing circumstances. They iterate, failing quickly and moving on to another approach. They possess a keen sense of situational awareness, employing the OODA loop: observe, orient, decide, act.
  • Ability to inspire and be inspired: We are motivated through language and communication. In any circumstance, effective communication is critical. Key attributes of communicating with a project management mindset include empathy, clarity, authenticity, and flexibility.
  • Collaborative leadership: Successful projects come to fruition through a coordinated team effort. Project managers know their teams. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of their teams, delegating responsibility accordingly. PMs foster team cohesion by breaking team members from their silos. And they know how to keep a diverse team organized and committed.

As innovation in business and human accomplishment centers around a project-oriented framework, professionals must embrace the art and science of project management. With a project manager mindset, they will lead the most influential, future-focused projects.

The Online Project Management Certificate

Develop and hone your project manager mindset with the online Project Management Certificate from the Kelley School of Business.

The program provides students a solid grounding in PMI’s ten knowledge areas and five process groups of project management. Just as importantly, it provides ample opportunity to put these concepts into practice. Graduates of the program emerge ready to immediately apply top project management methods and tools to their work.

The program is built around four courses, each course lasting three weeks, with a one-week break between each course. The certificate meets the 23-hour education requirement for the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification.

In addition, graduates of the program meet PMI’s 35-hour study requirement and are eligible and encouraged to take the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam, administered by PMI.

Topics covered in the program include:

  • Projects in enterprise: Understand the origins and role of projects within the enterprise landscape. Explore how projects flow from broader corporate strategy and reflect corporate values. Examine how to articulate project justification and value.
  • Understanding the project manager mindset: Dive into the project manager mindset, defining goals, planning, and executing benchmarks and milestones. Gain team building and effective communication skills.
  • Predictive and adaptive methodologies: Learn the fundamentals of predictive/classic and adaptive/agile project management strategies. Know the appropriate circumstances for each.
  • Project management in the real world: Consider tactics for stakeholder engagement and support throughout the life of a project. Practice techniques for keeping a project moving forward. Study industry standards, developments, and tools impacting project management.

The project management skills, concepts, and frameworks covered in the program give professionals an advantage in today’s competitive environment.