Form versus Knowledge for Project Managers

I selected Dr. Safarians to be the person for my interview for various reasons, and I am very happy that I did interview her. She was a project manager at the time, but her presence and knowledge was intimidating. She was speaking to my boss’s boss at the time and I happened to walk into the room requesting an approval on a protocol when I caught her discussion on her current project. She left a lasting impression on me, and I have respected her ever since.

Dr. Safarians had been promoted many levels in the past 9 years since I met her first. She had become a Director of Implementation. It is hard to describe what exactly this role does, as it is very complex and ever evolving as the realm of her responsibility changes, but it is a cross between a Director of Operations, Project Manager and Program Manager.

What brought Dr. Safarians into project management is that, “everything is a project, the only difference is the scope.” One of the items that she mentioned is that in undergraduate you learn about the projects and findings of others. You learn how others worked through problems and how they were able to solve the problems for others to grow from to lead to other discoveries. In graduate school to learn how to think for yourself to make those discoveries for others to learn from. Dr. Safarians earned her doctorate so that she could have the creditability to work on of her choosing projects and to demonstrate that she is a source of authority on matters pertaining to her field of expertise.

Her educational background has helped her because she can give substance to the project. Dr. Safarians stated that, “project managements have to be masters of form, not necessary knowledge. Project managers give the form to the discussions and schedule’s, they give shape to the deliverables. They do not have the technical side. They need to become technically savvy to understand. A project manager that manages to the schedule are not able to facilitate to the project.” With her knowledge she is able to embrace constructive discussions and understand the various perspectives of an issue in the project to give a better solution to a problem, or break down a barrier.

            There are two points that I would your response to. The first is, has your journey to get your MBA helped you gain credibility in your job when it comes to making decisions, and if so how? The other is, the discussion about form versus knowledge. I have worked with project managers that have facilitied and have lead, and only after interviewing Dr. Safarians did I realize that project managers do not always have to be the point of author or decision making, they can be guides or intermediates for knowledge. What are your thoughts on form versus knowledge?