After three weeks in Washington D.C. in the Development Project Management Institute (DPMI) certificate training program, I feel like I’ve learned and forgotten a lifetime of career advice. Learning and doing intensive group work for three weeks straight is a process that’s stressful, exhausting, and intensely rewarding at the same time.
I’ve designed infrastructure programs for Kenya, competition-based water access projects for Southeast Asia and mediated brainstorming sessions of social enterprise leaders (or fellow students role-playing, anyway).
I learned the power of the icebreaker, shared time line exercises and appreciative interviews. I can lead a Future Visioning process (maybe), map an organization’s core competencies and discuss strategic partnering for grants. I know that it’s important to have a strategic objective with clear indicators and intermediate results.
You shouldn’t start with the solution (but we often do). Recombination is what makes innovation, not reinventing the wheel. The power of group think – but participatory decision-making is not always the answer! Contestation can lead to improved results, but so can collaboration.
I’m still not sure what my development philosophy is, but I know it’s important to have one. And be open to what works. And have an exit strategy that’s sustainable. As I exit D.C., I hope I’m able to retain a fraction of the tools, knowledge, and networks I gained. Three cheers for DPMI, there was a lot of groan zone happening, but it was to achieve amazing results!