The Psychology of

Project Management


The talks listed below delve into the fascinating psychology and science of higher-order thinking, specifically tailored for project managers. By integrating rich insights from psychological science with advanced critical thinking principles, these discussions equip project managers with expert skills in problem-solving, high-stakes decision-making, and strategic planning. From interpreting information and recognizing patterns to strategic thinking, risk management, and ethical considerations, project managers learn crucial skills for navigating complex project landscapes. Toby has conducted significant studies on project management thinking and decision-making and has shared these profound insights at over 700 events, enhancing cognitive capabilities and performance. As a keynote speaker at major conferences across the U.S., Toby has presented at numerous internal corporate and government operations related to project management.

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How These Sessions Are Different

My sessions provide in-depth exploration into the underlying ways we think, offering practical information and concrete strategies that can be implemented immediately. With a deep foundation in psychology and extensive experience working closely with project managers, my expertise bridges forensic psychology, project management, and cognitive sciences to deliver content that truly resonates with project management professionals. These sessions challenge and expand the way project managers approach their work, providing tangible insights that enhance their effectiveness and efficiency.

Research-Backed, Results-Driven Presentations

At the core of my sessions is a pioneering scientific study on thinking related to thinking in project audits, an endeavor that has expanded into a dynamic repository of project manager thinking patterns. This ongoing research fuels my interactive presentations, making them not only captivating but also profoundly educational and impactful. By understanding these unique cognitive processes, project managers gain valuable insights into their decision-making and strategic planning capabilities.

Beyond Technical Knowledge: A Focus on Cognitive Excellence

My philosophy centers on a simple yet profound truth: the value of a project manager’s technical knowledge relies on their ability to think critically and apply that knowledge effectively. My sessions are crafted to enhance this aspect, equipping project managers with the tools to become more efficient, insightful, and impactful in their roles. By focusing on the cognitive processes behind effective project management, participants learn to leverage their expertise in ways that drive project success.

Topics Tailored Especially for Project Managers

From the psychology of critical thinking in project management and tackling complex challenges to effective communication strategies, ethics, and leveraging data science, my presentations cover a wide range of topics crucial for today’s project managers. Each session is tailored to address the most pressing issues and trends in the project management world, ensuring your team remains at the forefront of the industry.


Critical and Higher-Order Thinking

Untapped: How Project Managers Can Be Better Thinkers

The premiere "Thinking" Session is a must-see for project managers of all experience levels. This session provides project managers with the tools and inspiration to access their best thinking potential when it counts the most. Untapped 2024 includes an evaluation of our approach to emerging issues including Artificial Intelligence, sustainability, hybrid project management, data-driven decision making, risk management, and enhanced organizational change management. These topics are crucial for navigating the rapidly evolving landscape of project management and ensuring your team remains at the forefront of the industry.
"The best course I’ve ever had, in 40 years of taking CPE"- J. Derrick, CPA

This highly acclaimed session, tailored specifically for project managers and led by Dr. Toby Groves, embarks on a captivating exploration of the psychological science behind effective project management practices. The session serves as a practical and inspirational call to action, equipping project managers with powerful tools to enhance their thinking when it matters most. It introduces new thinking, daily habits, and advanced strategies that substantially improve judgment and decision-making. Participants will learn to cultivate the foundational cognitive abilities that support the key skills required for project managers, enabling them to perceive insights that remain unnoticed by others.

The course teaches how to dismantle mental blocks and approach problem-solving from fresh perspectives. These same strategies naturally promote confidence, mental clarity, flexibility, and resilience, which improves mental well-being and resistance to stress and burnout. Additionally, we will critically evaluate our project management approaches in light of emerging issues such as Artificial Intelligence, sustainability, hybrid project management, data-driven decision making, risk management, and enhanced organizational change management, equipping project managers with the foresight and adaptability required to excel in the evolving project environment.

Also now available Untapped for Teams

Enhancing Project Management Decisions: Integrating AI and Critical Thinking

This cutting-edge course equips project managers with the vital skills to integrate critical thinking with artificial intelligence, significantly boosting project task performance, decision-making, and data analysis. Participants will engage with the intersection of cognitive science and AI, leveraging AI’s potential through prompt engineering and critical evaluation of AI outputs. The course features hands-on examples and practical techniques to identify and mitigate biases, uncover logical inconsistencies, and formulate contextually relevant questions for real-world applications.

Emotional Intelligence in Project Management: Enhancing Judgment and Communication

Emotional intelligence deeply influences our reasoning, shaping how we prioritize, interpret, and present information. It’s crucial for project managers, affecting judgment and decision-making. This session delves into emotional intelligence’s role in project management, focusing on enhancing this skill to improve our thinking and effectiveness as project managers. We’ll explore strategies to boost emotional awareness and mastery, vital for navigating project challenges. Attendees will learn how to elevate their emotional intelligence and communication, key for mastering complex professional interactions and engagements.

Seeing Patterns Others Don't

In a world brimming with complexity, the ability to discern how various elements interact and influence each other stands at the heart of innovative problem-solving and sound decision-making. This session promises to unveil the secrets of connectivity, offering a deep dive into the art of systems thinking and pattern recognition. You’ll explore cutting-edge techniques to uncover hidden and unconventional patterns, tackle contradictory evidence with finesse, and master the art of identifying and interpreting intricate connections. Prepare to transform your perspective and develop a keen eye for the patterns that elude others, opening doors to unparalleled insights and strategic advantages.

Thinking Beyond Patterns

Finding Meaning in Your Data

We have more data than ever, but what is it really telling us? New technologies and analytical methods detect myriad patterns in our data, but what do they really mean and what decisions can they help us make? Is the underlying data reliable? Is it valid for the purpose you are using it? Cognitive technologies distance us from the context of our data, shrouding the meaning behind the patterns and how to apply the information for effective decision-making. New thinking approaches are required to move beyond simple recognition of correlations to insight into why relationships exist. This session will teach methods that give us the ability to discern the inner character of problems, to recognize why interactions occur, and what decisions can be made with the information.

Ethics in The Real World

Codes of ethics, ethics training, and “tone at the top” are expected to improve ethical behavior. But do they?  Research shows that not only can these traditional initiatives be unhelpful, but they can harm ethical reasoning!  Instead of looking at how people are “supposed” to behave, this class examines how people actually make ethical decisions in the real world.  We will explain how ethics codes can cause unethical behavior, why we misunderstand the influence of tone at the top, and why people betray their own ethical beliefs.

"Toby was a fantastic presenter and came at ethics from a different angle than I’ve seen before. "

Best Intentions: Why You Fail to Do What’s Right

A primary reason we fail to do what’s right is that we neglect to see the important ethical aspects of a situation in the first place.  Therefore, training our brains to notice the moral and ethical facets of our environment is critical to ethical reasoning.  When we are aware of the ethical aspects of a situation, we lack objectivity about our own ethical views and rationalize behavior that supports those views.  This class explains the psychology behind why we fail to detect the ethical parts of a decision and what we can do to gain awareness and objectivity to improve ethical reasoning.

The Science of Ethics

This session delves into the fascinating neuroscience behind how our minds work when we face decisions with conflicting motivations or difficult dilemmas for which the best answer is not clear.  Attendees will explore real-life dilemmas and learn effective cognitive processes to deal with those dilemmas as revealed by the latest research in neuroscience.  The session draws on organizational psychology, cognitive science, psychobiology and even sports psychology to create an immersive experience and unveil the hidden ways our minds perceive and interpret problems.

Advanced Communication Skills for Project Managers

Master the nuances of advanced communication in the project management sphere with this comprehensive course. Delve into the intricacies of both written and verbal communication across in-person and virtual platforms. Develop the skills to present complex project-related information compellingly and employ storytelling techniques to motivate change. Gain expertise in sophisticated persuasion and negotiation strategies to influence outcomes effectively. Learn the fine art of navigating difficult discussions with tact and learn how to probe deeply with questions that unveil the true intent behind the responses. Acquire techniques to establish immediate trust and adapt your communication style to various cultural contexts. For project managers who aspire to elevate their influence and impact, this course is an essential step towards becoming a formidable communicator.

When the Facts Aren’t Enough: The Art of Communicating Complex Information

Mastering the art of translating complex information into influential insights is a skill that transcends mere data analysis—it’s about crafting narratives that resonate and motivate. Our session, ‘When the Facts Aren’t Enough,’ focuses on the nuanced art of making intricate data accessible and compelling, even to those unfamiliar with the subject matter. This expertise signifies not just an in-depth comprehension of the data but a profound insight into its real-world implications and how it’s perceived by diverse audiences. By adopting the perspectives of your listeners and embodying their experiences, this interactive workshop delves into the cognitive strategies and thinking paradigms essential for clear, impactful communication. Participants will emerge with enhanced abilities to convey their knowledge persuasively, ensuring their messages are not just heard but felt and acted upon

The Science of Great Leadership

Leadership skills have never been more important, in all industries and at all levels, whether executive or front-line employees.  Organizations succeed in meaningful ways when their individual members have the ability to inspire action, build trust, solve complex problems, coordinate effective teams, and resolve contentious conflicts without damaging important relationships.  This requires a deep understanding of human motivation, emotional intelligence, and nuances of cultural psychology.  This session teaches a powerful model that allows attendees to build their own core leadership skills as well as the psychology of performance and motivation and the social psychology of organizational behavior.

The Science of Organizational Culture and Decision-Making

A strong organizational culture impacts social networks, fostering deep learning and flexible thinking. Research shows that teams with diverse perspectives achieve higher satisfaction and better decision-making. This course explores the scientific principles that enhance social networks and teaches how to embed social norms that promote collaboration. Learn strategies to build a culture encouraging personal responsibility in shaping group norms, driving collective success. Understand the science of social influence and group behavior to create an environment where team members contribute effectively to decision-making, ensuring robust organizational outcomes.