Gaining Competence Is Like A Bowl Of Soup

Simon’s Observations on Projects – SOOP:
PRINCE2® and PMBoK® As A Bowl of Soup

If you make vegetable soup then before the ingredients such as the carrots and tomatoes go into the pot they are clearly and discretely visible.

Vegetable soup

Once the soup is made its red colour is clear indication that there are tomatoes in the melange. With the aid of a spoon it is easy to find a discreet piece of carrot and the peas but not any longer possible to isolate the salt, remove the water or see the ingredients as the separate items that the recipe called for to be prepared and combined.

PRINCE2® is a recipe book, PMBoK® a book of ingredients. They describe discreet ingredients that are combined within the work context and some of the techniques by which to cook-up a project. Your challenge when translating PMBoK® and PRINCE2® to a practical industrial strength competency is to move from ‘collection of ingredients’ to ‘soup’. It is the assimilation of explicit facts into implicitly understood behaviours that marks transition from knowledge to skill (see our home page white papers link to Simon’s Observations On Projects – SOOP).

PRINCE2® is a powerful and elegant model for project control.
It is NOT suitable to beginners.
It does NOT say how to plan or track or MANAGE a project.

PMBoK® is a (confusingly) structured collection of planning and tracking
inputs → tools and techniques → outputs
It does NOT say how to wrap project controls around a project

Together PRINCE2® and PMBoK® are what is needed in the ‘boiler-room’ of corporate change: together they are half of what is needed
The other half are the Board-Room tools and techniques of Dimension Four® that describe outcomes, value-propositions and make change viseral

The PRINCE2 manual sets out the activities such as 12.4.1 Appointing the Executive & the Project Manager and 12.4.3 Designing and appoint the project management team as discreet ingredients. As the project is executed a single conversation such as “Hey Simon can you drop by my office this afternoon and bring Jane and Fred – we have a new product launch” has just performed two of the initial three SU activities without necessarily finishing them in their entirety.

This conversation may be (without need of further paper-work) at a level of formality sufficient for the organisation to be in control. Appointing team members often drags-on past Starting Up a Project (SU) and into Initiating a Project (IP). Using PRINCE2 is about following principle not blindly applying process.

PMBoK cautions us that a group is not a team until it has transitioned Bruce Tuckman’s Forming Storming and Norming transitions and perhaps reached the Performing plateau before the inevitable need for adjourning and mourning the past. PMBoK also advises that the afternoon meeting may well use Brainstorming ( Group creativity techniques). D4 guides how to exit PMBok’s process 5.1 Collect Requirements with a deliverable vision of the future.

Adding Control to Projects

PRINCE2 is a framework that adds to pre-existing competency in the basics of project planning and tracking as desscribed in PMBoK. In order to benefit from PRINCE project management staff need to know how to create plans and project sponsors need to recognise and embrace that PRINCE2’s purpose is to expose and support their accountability for sucessful delivery.

Dimension Four®

Sponsors must however be competent to define, explore and communicate the vision of what is to be delivered and the constraints that reality places on delivering those accountabilities. The philosophies, steps and tools of D4 are a huge help.


 Those who think education is expensive have not accounted for what they pay daily for ignorance.

Attendees after a training course need opportunity to practice skills ‘back@work’, a manager who understands that new ways take practice to be performed well, and a source of support to ask questions of and seek advice from.

LML’s approach mentors the manager and the trainee.



  1. #SOOP-9 #pm_ngt BAU is the portfolio of ALL uses of equity & debt to return utility to stakeholders | #pm_ngt Logical Model - December 17, 2013

    […] #SOOP are Simon’s Observations on Projects  –  Each one flows from the observation that gaining skills in delivering projects is like making soup  […]

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