One on One with Terry Schmidt

By  Kerry K. Sharp

Over 400 people attended PMI Portland’s Annual Conference 2017. For those of you who were unable to attend, our newsletter team had the chance to talk with some of the speakers and highlight their important session takeaways. I caught up with Terry Schmidt, PMP, author, consultant (just to name a few of his many accomplishments), to chat about his session Bullet-Proof Project Design and the Logical Framework Approach.

Question: Briefly explain the Logical Framework Approach.

Terry Schmidt: The Logical Framework Approach is a thinking tool that helps you turn an idea, a strategy, a goal into a project plan that succeeds. It is powered by some very simple questions that most Project Managers don’t sufficiently ask and answer, questions like, what are we trying to accomplish and why? Much like the movie, Field of Dreams, if we build it, they will come, that recognizes a causal relationship, an “if, then” relationship, which is really important in developing strategy. Everyone knows a lot of projects end up delivering deliverables, but they don’t reach the goal that was intended. So, the Logical Framework Approach is a way to help everyone get on the same page, be clear about what the objectives are, the measures of success, and identify some of the risks and how they can reduce them. All of this is done before developing the project plan.

Question: What makes a design bulletproof?

Terry Schmidt: First of all, it’s a process of asking the right questions and answering them. Second, involving the people who are affected by the project or involved in the project. If a project is designed in isolation it is not likely to succeed. People support what they help to create. Bullet Proof means that you have asked the right questions and you realize what I call the critical linkages. For example, a training program. If you ask most people what is the objective of a training program, they will say skills transfer or learning. That is only part of it. We have to look at why we want to develop a training program. So, the logic is if we develop a training program and then, teach it, people learn skills. But, more importantly is if people learn skills, they need to apply those skills. If they apply the skills there will be a benefit, an operational benefit, efficiency improvement, better communications, etc. So, asking the questions the Logical Framework Approach supports is going to help you nail the goal, bulletproof your project, that is you will be able to reduce your risks in advance and have a greater chance of success.

Question: The Logical Framework Approach was developed in 1969. What makes it so popular today?

Terry Schmidt: The reason it has taken a long time to become popular in the business and technology world is that it was used extensively first in developing countries by our foreign aid program, US Aid, and by the World Bank. It is used by a lot of non-government organizations and private voluntary organizations working in developing countries. I worked in 30 developing countries, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, and I realized this is a systems-thinking approach that helps us to overcome the seventy percent failure rate of projects.


About the Author

sharp kerry

Kerry K. Sharp, CAPM

Kerry has a background in IT and software testing. She is an experienced software testing manager, document manager, and technical editor/writer. Kerry holds a B.A. in Digital Technical and Culture from Washington State University Vancouver and a B.A. in Humanities from Marylhurst University. She achieved a CAPM in August 2016. Her passions include baking, cooking, technical writing, process development/improvement, and spending time with her teenage nieces.