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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Sample reflection


A reflective blog: an academic reflection in four paragraphs (from Master of Project Management)

From an activity in this week's lecture I learned that the best place to start resource planning is with questioning to clarify the client needs and to enable the work breakdown structure (WBS). The guest lecturer in Project Management Techniques, Dr Strangelove, started her presentation by asking us to assemble as a group of five and then build a tower from straws. She said it would be judged in terms of strength, height, and how aesthetically pleasing it was. My group and I did the task cooperatively and we finished it in the prescribed time. We thought we had done very well. Then Dr Strangelove made her point: all groups built the tower without much attention to project management techniques in terms of asking clients for clarification for planning, resources allocation, etc. None of us had asked a single question about the purpose, constraints, resources or stakeholder needs. The group displayed what she describes as ‘groupthink’. I was amused and embarrassed but I learned a lesson about project management.

The insight


Understanding the importance of clarification is central to my understanding of project management. It underpins my use of PM tools and techniques. Asking clarifying questions about types of work resources (people and equipment) and material resources (supplies, stock, and other consumable resources) allows me to identify what resources are needed for project effectiveness. When we want to designate who or what is accountable for accomplishing tasks in our project schedule I can use PM tools to assign tasks and responsibilities ... All this is possible only if requirements are clarified through questions.


A major benefit of understanding the critical role of questioning in project management is that it might give me more confidence about asking questions. It changes my view of questioning government authorities. In my job as a project manager in the reserve bank in Phnom Penh I traditionally would not feel able to question my superiors in these projects. I would try to establish the requirements and resources in some other way. I thought I could avoid asking questions by transferring lessons learned from one situation to another. I could do this by using a framework as a predictive aid to resourcing (Crawford and Pollack, 2004)... But now I feel I am required by my position to determine the dimensions and resources of a project. Knowing the role of questioning to achieve objective clarity for a specific purpose is very valuable for me to give me confidence in my position as a project manager in government projects. Evaluate
I believe this new realisation will be useful throughout my degree and in my future professional and private life. In my degree studies, I will endeavour to clarify the critical aspects of project planning by using a questioning technique that allows for understanding objective dimensions, and also any subjective aspects. In my practice as a project manager in Cambodia I will use questioning to clarify the project goals and objectives with all stakeholders. In my life I will question my own assumptions about what is expected of me before I jump in (and build any more towers). Plan