Finally, project management is an essential competence for many different professions. Let me make clear this is not about knowing the intricacies of a Gantt chart. Rather, it is about breaking down complicated and frequently ambiguous requirements into manageable tasks, prioritizing actions, and using resources appropriately, including other peoples time, all in the service of a worthwhile goal. In a way, project management is about optimization under imperfect circumstances in an imperfect world. Too often, classrooms seem designed to remove the very imperfections that make the world the way it is. That is not necessarily helpful.
I have noticed that individuals who master these skills not only outshine others, but also seem more open to new ideas and are better equipped to apply new techniques and thought constructs to disparate fields. As with everything in life, some people are naturals, while others need to work at it. Nevertheless, a greater recognition of the importance of these qualities would help prepare all students better and would lead to a stronger workforce, one more capable of competing on a global basis.
Joe Ruck is president and CEO of BoardVantage. Prior to joining BoardVantage, Joe was SVP of Marketing at Interwoven and part of the team that drove the company through one of the most successful IPOs of 1999. Previously, he held sales, marketing, and executive positions at Sun Microsystems, Network Appliance, and Genesys Telecommunications, subsequently acquired by Alcatel.