Interview With Project Management Maestro Nader K. Rad


Nader K. Rad is an author, advisor, and prolific speaker in the field of project management. He helps organizations and professionals to improve their project management systems.

Nader has accumulated 20 years of experience in managing projects in a multitude of business verticals.

He has authored more than 40 books and developed countless e-learning courses. Nader’s prominent publications include NUPP (Nearly Universal Principles of Projects), co-authored (an open-source, minimalist project management methodology), part of the development team of the PMBOK Guide 7th edition, and official reviewer of PRINCE2 2017 and PRINCE2 Agile.

Nader is currently a partner at Management Plaza – a company that offers best-in-class eLearning courses about everything project management and the latest in Agile project management approaches. Let’s not keep you waiting and begin the interview.

TaskQue: Can you share a little backstory about how you embraced project management as a career option?  What was the motivation behind saying yes to PM?

Nader K. Rad: Just a week after I started my bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, I found a job in a construction company’s project planning team. They were looking for someone to join them and help them with their computer issues. Since I was good enough with that, they hired me on a part-time basis.

In a couple of months, I learned the basics of scheduling and started helping them in that area. This continued, and soon I found it exciting enough to persuade me to become a project scheduler.

I continued in project scheduling for a few years, when I got interested in the broader aspects of projects that gave meaning to what we used to do as schedulers, that was when I decided to anchor in the project management ocean.

TaskQue: There is news circulating among PM practitioners that the PMBOK Guide will be updated in 2020. What changes can we expect? Will it affect the PMP exam?

Nader K. Rad: We are almost done with the first draft of the PMBOK Guide, and the public exposure draft will be available in January.

This version has a new approach to projects: principles-based instead of process-based. It enables the standard (and the guide) to be more adaptable to every type of project and also helps practitioners to focus on the most important things first.

The PMP exam will also change in mid-2020, but not only to adapt to the new version of the PMBOK Guide; there will be more changes. However, I don’t have any direct involvement in the development of the new PMP exam.

TaskQue: How long does it take to prepare for the PRINCE2 examination? And what’s the advantage of going for PRINCE2 over PMP?

Nader K. Rad: PRINCE2 is very different from the PMBOK Guide, and so is the PRINCE2 exam compared to the PMP exam. Both the PMBOK Guide and the PMP exam are about different things that may be needed to be carried out in projects, and more importantly, the way those things can be integrated and become more effective. PRINCE2, on the other hand, is a methodology, meaning that it tells you what to do in each step of the project, and suggests artifacts and responsibilities that can make those things possible.

For someone who’s involved in projects, both PRINCE2 and the PMBOK Guide are helpful, but in different ways. As a result, I always recommend learning both of them. When it comes to the sequence of learning, my suggestion is to start with PRINCE2 first.

Preparing for the PRINCE2 exam is easier, faster, and more straightforward than the PMP exam. Many people learn it in intensive two-day courses and take the exam immediately. I always recommend a longer learning process, because that lets the brain digest and absorb the information. My recommendation is two months of study for PRINCE2 and at least six months of preparation for PMP.

TaskQue: Tell us about Management Plaza?  What’s your role over there?

Nader K. Rad: We help people learn about project management and Agile approaches. It used to be through consultancy services, classroom courses, and eLearning courses, but it’s been a few years that we’ve focused on eLearning courses because we’ve found that to be the most effective form.

Most people know Management Plaza as a boutique eLearning provider because we don’t have tens or hundreds of courses, just a few. These courses are developed with maximum care. We try to create eLearning courses that people can really enjoy, not the “corporate eLearning courses” that many people may be used to. We also help people learn something pragmatic that they can use in their projects and not just to pass an exam.

TaskQue: As a project management consultant, how do you see the future of project management with respect to AI?

Nader K. Rad: When compared to other types of endeavors, projects have a lot more uncertainty. As a result, they won’t be among the first domains to be significantly impacted by AI. Being in the far future, it is much harder to talk about how that impact would be, especially based on the fact that when time passes, even the types of projects slightly change.

TaskQue: Which books would you recommend to project management professionals in order to adopt better PM practices?

Nader K. Rad: The number one problem I see in the project management landscape is the fallacies and biases that riddle it. As a result, the most essential thing for practitioners is to be better in critical thinking. When they are, it will be much easier for them to find their way among all the false advertisements and self-promotions that have saturated the online, as well as the offline world.

To start with critical thinking, I can suggest the following books:

– The Art of Thinking Clearly, by Rolf Dobelli

– Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

– Thinking on Purpose for Project Managers: Outsmarting Evolution, by Bill Richardson

– Project Decisions: The Art and Science, by Lev Virine and Michael Trumper

TaskQue: What do you think are the drawbacks of agile methodology? What will be the future of agile in 2020?

Nader K. Rad: I don’t see an inherent problem in Agile approaches (when they are used in the right environment), but I do see many problems in the Agile community, and especially with some of the people who are leading it.

The divide between the Agile approaches and the established project management systems is probably the biggest problem: the one that prevents people from learning from each other and encourages them to reinvent the wheel.

Now that Agile approaches are being used in a broader range of projects, practitioners are facing issues they didn’t face so much before, and some of the attempts to solve those problems are creating solutions that are similar to those found in established project management systems. This will probably increase in the future, and one potential outcome is for everyone to become more open to the other approaches, learn from each other, and let their existing methods transform into something better than what they had been before.

The future that I described needs time, probably 3 to 10 years. In 2020, I don’t expect to see any significant changes in the Agile world.

TaskQue: Can you give one productivity advice to young project managers?

Nader K. Rad: Don’t do the same thing twice; do it differently each time and make sure that each iteration is a better version of your previous effort.

TaskQue: Which personalities have been your inspiration in the industry? Would you like to mention a few names?

Nader K. Rad: I only see and think about ideas, not people. The exception is when someone comes up with an idea or set of ideas so great that you even have to revise your opinion about human capability. That, unfortunately, has not happened in the project management domain yet.

TaskQue:  TaskQue is a cloud-based productivity management tool created for making team collaboration, communication and task management more efficient, how do you see such applications in helping teams being more successful?

Nader K. Rad: A common issue is that many people try to solve problems by using tools, which rarely works. A problem needs a solution, and when the solution is in place and has proven itself, then a suitable tool can be added to make the solution work faster, easier, and more productive. I hope that’s how people use TaskQue 🙂


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