Jumpstart 2018 with a project management social good program in your community


19 January 2018

Published inPM for Social Good

Volunteers building a structure

PMIEF Liaison Titi Park from the PMI Nigeria Chapter has led many successful social good programs to benefit the community. Hear some of her exciting tips for success, and perhaps add a new year’s resolution to give back in your own community.

Problem solving, creativity, analytic thinking, collaboration, communication, ethics, action and accountability…what better way to teach children these 21st century skills than through project management?

A lot can be said for project management being a 21st century life skill. This means it’s no longer a “nice to have,” but a “must have” for anyone who wants to thrive in today’s world. I personally think that what we learn early in life becomes a foundation on which every other endeavor feeds off of—which must be the reason why the PMI Educational Foundation (PMIEF) is teaching project management skills to children as young as 6 years old.

While it may appear a daunting task when considering how to start, you will find that it can be easy if you follow these few simple proven steps…

1. Start small. Even if you have a small team of as little as two volunteers, take the plunge and start. Don’t plan too much activity. The important thing is to get the message out in front of the audience. There was a time when all we could do was play a game through which we could subtly teach the principles of project management and the kids not only loved it, but they wanted more!

2. Start from known to unknown. PMIEF offers a wide variety of no-cost resources tailored to various age groups. Review them on the PMIEF website and see which works best for your target audience; no need to develop any new material. There are even games that have been developed that can be used as teaching tools!

3. Customize at the beginning or as you go along. There may be a little tweaking required to optimize the free resource for your audience. Make necessary adjustments as you go along. It can be as simple as introducing images that resonate with your target audience in order to drive home the message stronger.

4. Leverage relationships. We all know someone who knows someone who is in a position of influence that could be instrumental to getting you your first few gigs. You can start at your old school, for example. Schools always encourage their alumni to interact with current students in one form or another. You may also be a member of an affinity group and use that opportunity to create an opening to carry out a social group program for your community.

5. Leverage strategic partnerships. Don’t overlook the opportunity for creating strategic partnerships, especially as you’re starting small. For example, you may know a non-profit organization that has the resources to reach a wider segment of your target audience. Such a synergy means that your potential partner can do some administrative and logistic arrangements to provide you access to their audience.

For example, we partnered with a non-profit that was organizing boot camps for children between the ages of 11 to 16. With our three-man team and lean financial resources, there was no way we could have organized a boot camp for 400 students on our own. Partnering with this organization gave us exactly that opportunity.

6. Develop your team. Out with the “If you want it done right, do it yourself!” mentality. As a team leader, you need to replicate yourself as fast as possible to avoid burnout! Learn to entrust specific tasks to your team members with jointly agreed delivery timelines. If they need your help, they will ask for it. This way, everyone gets a chance to add value to the team. Once you know they understand the process for running programs, let them run their own and you will see your team growing organically.

7. Develop repeatable programs. Once you have carried out a successful program, take time to document the process and capture lessons learnt. This way, when you want to run the same program again, it becomes easier using the previous template.

8. Think succession plan. Empower your team in such a way that you build in adequate support. If you ask any of your volunteers about why they chose to volunteer, you will likely hear that they want an opportunity to grow.

Through social good initiatives, we can reach children and our communities—and teach them how to be responsible and accountable with resources, thereby positively impacting our societies. By teaching project management, we can especially plant many seeds in young learners. If we are able to strategically sow these seeds now, then in the not-so-distant future, our societies can begin to reap the dividends.

This article was produced in conjunction with the PMI Educational Foundation (PMIEF) as part of the ProjectManagement.com November 2017 Open House.