Dissertation: Think Like a Project Manager

Good morning colleagues and welcome to 2017—the start of a new year and perhaps the opportunity to renew your energy to complete your dissertation and/or doc study before the new year is up.

To inspire you, let me offer a new strategy to consider: Think like a Project Manager.  A project manager is one who manages a project from soup to nuts.  Think of a Construction Project Manager who coordinates all the moving parts to ensure that a house or commercial project is completed from the initial foundation (doctoral translation: problem statement) to the final lock on the front door when the new owner gets the keys (graduation).  Think of a Project Manager for the Boeing 777–with the responsibility to coordinate literately thousands of vendors and millions of moving parts to build the 777 Airplane air worthy of flight to ensure the safety of passengers.

Herein lies the secret, organization and time management–sound familiar (if your one of my students–*Smiles*)? The principles of project management are the same regardless of the project size.  Thus, as you complete your doctoral journey you too can learn the skills and principles to become your own project manager for completing your project–your dissertation.

The first strategy I recommend is to pick an end date–graduation.  Every project has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You are already in the middle stages; our goal is to help you move forward by coordinating the remaining elements in your doctoral journey.  Thus, first, pick a realistic end date on the calendar and then we will use an outcome based approach as a project manager to work backwards.  Whether you believe it yet or not (*smiles*), you have everything you need to complete your journey.  Most universities provide students a template, a research handbook, a rubric, and access to completed dissertations for your school in ProQuest.  (ProQuest has a general database for all dissertations; and a specific database just for your school).  Your role as a student is to coordinate all of the requirements for your university with the approval of your committee and the many levels of review required at your school to complete the process.

Some students find that using a specific software program may be of help.  Several of my students use Excel.  They simply create a step-by-step plan of (a) what needs to be done (be very specific) and (b) the date of completion.  Your school may require a student to submit a plan for each term regarding what they are planning to accomplish by the end of the term.  Remember, first we plan our work, then we work our plan.  Other students actually use a Project Management Software such as Microsoft Project.  The secret is to simply find a program that works for you in scheduling EVERY remaining outcome remaining in your doctoral program.  The goal is simply the use of SMART goals: make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Good luck to completing your journey in 2017—remember Think like a Project Manager.

My best to your success!

Dr. Cheryl Lentz
The Academic Entrepreneur


January 6th, 2017 by admin

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