The project management course “tanked” at Fall Workshop

The blog below was submitted by Rich Maltzman and Dave Shirley of EarthPM.

There were sharks in the waters almost as soon as we began our Fall Workshop project management training in Columbus, Ohio. This is strange considering the distance from either the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.  Still, there they were, as we introduced personality type and their impact on projects and the role of the project manager.

Yes, we asserted, you may be a shy, retiring inventor, stuck in the garage and working on the latest advanced power control module or a whole new type of gear mechanism… but you must be able to shift to (at least temporarily) an extroverted “pitch maker” when it comes time to ‘sell’ that idea to a key stakeholder or sponsor.

And for that, we used the analogy of CNBC’s popular “Shark Tank” TV program. As we moved through the class, we introduced a mini-project for the students in which they had to develop a Patagonia-branded mountain bike, developing the mission and vision statement, statement of work, Work Breakdown Structure, and even apply things like Kano Analysis to their projects.Rich Maltzman introduces the 'Shark Tank' exercise

But that image of Shark Tank stuck with us and it just seemed like it was perfect to go ahead and have the students actually “pitch” their ideas to – you guessed it – a group of Sharks.

So, thanks to Nicole Lambiase, a ‘school’ of Sharks was assembled, consisting of Kristen De La Rosa, Connie Bezanson, and Brian Benoy, who really took on their roles and we had the students prepare pitches which were given to the Sharks. We even included the introduction music from the show and had the students take that deadly walk from the door to the floor in which they had to face this vicious group.

Students participate in a 'Shark Tank' exercise to test their pitching skills

Each team got a series of questions from the Sharks and then they provided scores to EarthPM, who tallied these scores along with scoring from the actual mini-project elements. The winning team was even awarded a prize – the privilege of selecting their time for a presentation later in the EcoCAR 3 program.

It was great to see these students succeed in the ‘Shark Tank’ exercise. We look forward to seeing the students again at the Winter Workshop in Austin!