Innovation by the Book

About the Course

For many firms and their managers, the PMBOK® Guide is simply a way to get certified. Beyond that, it is impractical, a castle in the sky, a language no one speaks. These managers miss the point, and their firms miss the benefits.

In business, there is only one game. That game is to better create business value, and it is this game the guide is made for. The strategy is collaborative application of its practices – selected, tailored and implemented by a team – to that team's real issues and opportunities. In other words, the PMBOK® Guide is one thing when one person is "studying" it. When a results-oriented team is tailoring it to challenges at hand, it is another thing entirely: a set of game plans for increasing business value.

More than ever, the PMBOK® Guide is built to be such a playbook. Tailored in just this way, it is to help teams to compete successfully. To put that playbook in your hands is the aim of this course. It is to leverage the practice of the professional project management community, as set out in the latest (2017) PMBOK® Guide, for the business benefit of your division.

The sixth edition is the first to incorporate substantial guidance on agile project management. Teams using agile or considering it will find this Cogent Language course especially beneficial. The course is "about" agile, in the sense of outlining agile concepts first appearing in the current PMBOK® Guide. Most importantly, the course itself is agile. Its learning architecture is built on the pattern: Envision, Speculate, Explore, Adapt, Close.

  • In each instance of the course, a team builds a local vision of capabilities that would enable it or its firm to better create business value.
  • Speculating on the knowledge areas of the PMBOK® Guide that might help build these capabilities, the team constructs a capability plan, coordinating target capabilities with PMBOK® knowledge areas.
  • Addressing areas and capabilities according to the plan, team members explore pertinent segments of the PMBOK® Guide. In each class iteration based on the plan, they develop key segments from one knowledge area as applications pertinent to target capabilities.
  • In each class iteration also, the team adapts its capability plan, managing backlog and completed applications as needed, and plans its next iteration.
  • At the close of the class, the team documents the unique framework of applications that it has developed and prepares an approach to implementing it.


Teams, intact or crossfunctional, within a business, NGO, or government entity

  • project and operations/functional managers
  • project sponsors, program and portfolio managers
  • a PMO (Project Management Office)


  • experience as project manager, sponsor, executive


24 - 30 hrs: 12 - 15 Sessions


  • Required (not provided): PMBOK® Guide - Sixth Edition
  • Kanban platform (provided by customer or Cogent Language)


PMBOK® Guide knowledge (know-how "in the head”)

PMBOK® Guide applications addressing team capability (know-how "in the world")


Session 1 - 2: Envision

    • PMBOK® Guide Overview
      • Systems Paradigm Shift: From Cybernetic to Collaborative
      • Structure and Contents
      • Agile Dimensions
    • PMBOK® Guide, Chapters (Ch) 1-3 - Quickstart on Key Concepts
    • Build Team Models of Performing Organization
      • Business Value
      • Organizational Process Assets (OPA)
      • Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEF)
      • Local Vision of Capabilities

3: Speculate

    • Outline PMBOK® Guide Ch 4 - 13
    • Construct Team Capabilities Plan

4 - 13: Explore and Adapt

Develop applications re planned capabilities pertinent to:*

    • Stakeholder Engagement
    • Communications
    • Scope
    • Risk
    • Quality
    • Resources
    • Schedule
    • Cost
    • Procurement
    • Project Integration

*The sequence of themes/PMBOK® Guide Knowledge Areas here is just an example. In each instance of the class, the team would set out a provisional sequence of areas in its "Team Capabilities Plan", and then, in each class iteration, tailor the sequence of remaining areas to gaps in its plan.

14: Close

    • Document completed applications
    • Incorporate completed applications into Team Capability Plan
    • Adapt and prepare to execute plan


All Cogent Language courses are built according to a consistent design pattern: they have a learning path that is "cogent" to the needs of participants. We have found that, for our participants, a learning path is cogent when it is constructive, collaborative, cumulative, fast-paced, visual, and personal. Here's what makes this course cogent.


The team builds a local vision of capabilities and a capability plan, coordinating target capabilities with Knowledge Areas of the latestPMBOK® Guide . In each class iteration based on the plan, they develop key segments from one Knowledge Area as applications pertinent to target capabilities. In each iteration, the team also adapts its capability plan as needed and plans the next iteration. At the close of the class, the team documents the applications developed and prepares an approach to implementing them.


Participants build plans and applications in teams. To facilitate this work, the facilitator will utilize PMBOK® Guide techniques and propose PMBOK® Guide Leadership Skills that team members may find useful.


In this course, the main learning activities are not topics presented by the instructor - they are tasks participants do. Each task builds on previous tasks and topics, with participants incorporating the work of teammates and accumulating team knowledge in a concrete product. That product is an outline of PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition applications addressing the capabilities the team has prioritized.


In order to frame, address, and relate the topics in the ambitious agenda above, the course moves quickly.


The central planning tool and knowledge repository for the class - the Kanban platform - is visual in essence. Explanations and task work for the course are scaffolded by diagrams, tables, and other structural models in the class workbook and in the presentation of the instructor. The task-based learning process of the class makes extensive use of sketching and whiteboards. In addition, each class may choose to utilize burn down charts, burn up charts and other visual modeling tools of agile.


Each participant helps develop the capabilities plan for the course as a whole and the agenda for each class/plan for each iteration. Each participant can identify the organization capabilities and/or PMBOK® Guide applications that s/he cares about. Group size is kept small so individuals can benefit from coaching.

*Materials for this course are based on the text, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition.