Best practice vs real life

So there I am teaching an MSP class when one of my delegates asks, “do I need to disregard real life when I do the exam?” And that’s a dangerous question for those of us teaching any best practice framework. While technically the answer is “yes” – because it is the book and how it is applied to a given scenario that is tested, this can be dangerous. It can lead to people saying, “oh OK; then it has nothing of value to add to the workplace”.


One of the characteristics of MSP’s principles is that they are universal – they apply to all programmes. MSP absolutely has value in the workplace – huge value. MSP (and any course I teach, to that matter) is about best practice. As such, I encourage any delegate who identifies one part of best practice guidance which is not in place in their workplace to challenge why that might be the case. In short, I ask them to consider, “if other organisations are doing this, can we get value from it?”.


My question is intended to help them to identify what improvements they can make with the knowledge that they take back to their workplaces. It also encourages someone to more fully understand the particular area – which is also great from a training point of view.


I sometimes see the question in a different form, “do I really need all these documents?”. Usually as an objection to seeing that MSP lists 28 different documents. My answer is always, “no – but I think you need all the information”.  Lots of organisations record some of the information needed to deliver a programme in a global set of standards across an organisation (e.g. the risk standards are sometimes global to an organisation). Where understanding MSP adds value, is making sure all the information is clearly understood by all people.


The question, “do I need to disregard real life when I do the exam?” has a complex answer.