Project Management: So Fundamental, the Girl Scouts Are Doing It

Every box of Girl Scout Cookies tells us, “Selling Girl Scout Cookies helps girls develop five skills that they use throughout their lives.” These skills – goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics – are also the essentials of project management, and certifying them can boost any career.

scan0067If you’ve never read the side of a box of Girl Scout Cookies before, you can be forgiven – most people are probably in a rush to just eat the tasty treats. But if you take a second with the packaging, you’ll see the copy of the side of every box tells you, “Selling Girl Scout Cookies helps girls develop five skills that they use throughout their lives.” The box then lists these skills as goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

People get MBAs to develop such skills, and here it seems the Girl Scouts have them as part of their cookies’ recipe. More than just business skills, the message of the Girl Scout Cookie Program looks an awful lot like project management – and particularly like elements of CompTIA’s Project+ certification.

Goal Setting

Much like how Girl Scouts have troop meetings to get organized and have badges for, among other things, how many cookies they sell, project managers, as prescribed by CompTIA Project+’s objectives, have project kick-off meetings. At such meetings, project managers communicate stakeholder expectations and project goals and objectives, establish a high-level timeline, and assign roles and responsibilities to the project team. Whether moving Thin Mints or relocating an office, the overall fundamentals are the same.

Decision Making

Being decisive is an essential business skill, so it’s good to see the Girl Scouts emphasizing this early. Project+’s objectives stress decision-making as well. When it comes to recognizing the purpose and influence of organizational governance on a project’s execution, Project+ recommends forming a change control board or committee consulting to establish decision oversight.

Money Management

You’ve probably noticed you can only buy Girl Scout Cookies in the spring. The Scouts are serious about this; selling the cookies for a set price during a strict timetable. Similarly, one of the central elements of Project+ is certifying that project managers complete projects on time and within budget. The certification’s objectives prescribe identifying components of a cost management plan; especially project budget.

People Skills

Selling those cookies sure seems to bring out the best in the Scouts; if you’ve ever bought from one directly, you likely encountered an ace saleswoman with charisma to spare, brimming with recommendations on which box is best. Such soft skills are central to project management as well; project managers have to be good with people. One of Project+’s objectives asks certificants to coordinate human resources to maximize performance; instructing them to assemble and develop a project’s team and build team cohesiveness.

Conflict is a big risk here. Project+ tells project managers to identify common causes of conflict such as competing resource demands and varying work styles – and excise expert judgment while doing so. The objectives also instruct project managers to detect conflict and apply conflict resolution techniques.

Business Ethics

This one’s a given; obviously nothing unethical should go on in a project. In selling Girl Scout Cookies this might just come down to making sure buyers get the cookies they ordered or not short-changing anyone, but in a project, keeping everything above board is essential.

If you’re in IT, Project+ might be just the thing to help you move over to the business side of your company. But no matter what industry you’re in, tech or otherwise, project management can inform and enhance what you do and how successful you are – so Project+ is still a fit. Click here to get started on CompTIA Project+ today; you can eat a Do-si-do every time you get a sample question right!

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