Abstract: How can we make project management training fun, engaging and relevant for non-experts? The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US Government international development agency, has been working to answer that question as they stand up their Integrated Program Management office and introduce advanced project management skillsets for staff in Washington and around the world.
International development institutions often struggle with project management challenges that stem from both the nature of their work as well as the structure of the institutions themselves. Traditional project management training and certification programs can be too theoretical or rigid for staff that work in complex, low-capacity environments. Putting project management in the context where development professionals find themselves operating daily can help them make the connection between the challenges they face and the tools that can help them solve them. One way to do that is through simulation.
Adults learn best from interaction with others in a realistic environment, through role playing, simulation, and skills practice (Knowles, 1988). Simulation provides a method of knowledge transfer superior to instructor-led, classroom training. Particularly with challenges that involve complex problem-solving, simulation games or other types of hands-on activities are essential. Conducting training and practice in environments that resemble the workplace increases the likelihood that target competencies will be achieved (Grossman & Salas, 2011).
At the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Integrated Program Management Team has used competitive simulations, also known as “serious games,” to help reinforce the importance of project management systems and tools and train staff and counterparts how to use them in the implementation of its international development programs. This session and paper will provide an overview of how the simulations were designed and executed and the results observed over three years of practice as well as suggestions for how they can be introduced in other environments.
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