I have spent my entire career working in large programs and organizations for about two years each (on average). Therefore I always seem to be joining a new company, organization or program relatively frequently. Each time there are many new words, processes, acronyms and concepts that I do not understand but my approach is always the same – write down every word or acronym that I don’t know and then find a way to understand what it is. Here are some of the techniques that I use…
- Set up meetings with key people to walk me through them
- Look them up on internal websites and the Internet
- Keep a list of them and ask people as they get bunched
- Try to infer their meaning based on existing materials
- Create my own glossary of terms and add to it every time I get a new word
From my perspective the most valuable employees to a company are those people who can get things done AND understand the company and industry that they work in. I have seen many Subject Matter Exprts (SMEs) who know content and don’t “do” much so their value is to be a reference that people can come to and ask questions. Then there are PMs that push plans but don’t understand what is actually being delivered by them.
As Project Managers and professionals I think it is very important to understand the context and content for which our projects are based on and delivering so the honus is on us to proactively understand them and not just assume that the SMEs know it all and we just need to manage the plans.