Shim Marom wrote a nice piece titled Project Management – Technique or Discipline? where he asks a question that’s been gnawing at me for some time.

That question: is project management a skill or a technique?

Before continuing, let’s take a few minutes to look at the definition of skill & technique to better understand the distinction between these often mis-used words:

  • Skill is defined as: an ability that has been acquired by training
  • Technique is defined as a practical method or art applied to some particular task.

Are project managers using abilities that they’ve learned from training and/or experience or are they applying procedures & methods to tasks?

I’m pretty sure that the folks at the Project Management Institute and PRINCE2 would argue that Project Management is a skill learned through training and years of experience.

I know a few people who think project management is nothing more than applying best practices to specific tasks to get something done with very little thought to the skill behind that application.

My opinion?

Project management is a discipline that requires real skill, abilities and experience. Sure…you can use project management techniques to get things done, but project management as a whole, is a discipline with a real honest-to-goodness skill set.

What’s your thoughts….is Project Management a skill…or just a set of techniques? Or as Shim wrote…Technique or Discipline?