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1At what point in their careers should “rising stars” enroll in FOPP?
Generally speaking, John suggests just before they will be made a project manager or just after they accept that responsibility. While the soft skills FOPP addresses are not the equivalent of project-management training, project managers are far more apt to make a costly mistake – nontechnical – without knowledge of soft skills. As John has said, “A project manager who lacks soft-skills knowledge is like a sailor who knows how to sail but not how to navigate.”
2What is the FOPP Part 2 seminar all about?
FOPP concludes with a 2½-day, in-person seminar at The Hilton Inverness Hotel and Conference Center, in Littleton, Colorado. There, you will meet fellow FOPP participants – peers from North America and beyond – and join with them in realizing that you are the future of your profession; what you do with it is up to you. That’s a heady responsibility; all our efforts are designed to help you deal with it well. You will also do some public speaking, engage in loss-prevention analysis, and identify some of the biggest challenges that face your profession and what you and your peers can do about them. You will also hear some great speakers addressing topics that will engage you.
3How are people supposed to get FOPP done while doing their regular work and tending to personal/family issues?
More than 2,000 people have gone through FOPP. Some firms provide some otherwise-billable time to help people get it done. But, realistically, people have at least six months to do the work; 15 hours a month for six months, while a burden, is not a crushing burden. Firm leaders regard those they select for FOPP as future leaders of the firm. If becoming such a leader doesn't interest you; if you are not willing to put in something extra to achieve it, you should tell your firm’s leadership sooner rather than later. Your time investment in FOPP is an investment in yourself and your future.
4How much does FOPP cost?
Cost information is provided at Be mindful of the discounts available for firms that are members of a sponsoring organization and for paying by check rather than credit card. Terra insureds also receive a discount, as do employees of a firm that has sent people through FOPP in the past.
5How much time does FOPP participation require?
Based on what participants have told us, you’re likely to spend about 150 hours over six months, including about 25 hours at the course-concluding seminar in Englewood, CO, outside of Denver. The research project you select is a major time factor. You can choose one of the 100 topics we describe in FOPP’s Research Assignment Compendium, but we encourage you to create one of your own; something that will fit well with the needs of your firm.
6What happens if I complete Part 1, the distance-learning, but I’m unable to participate in the Part 2 seminar?
In the past, you’d be allowed to participate in the next FOPP seminar or the one after that. However, FOPP 31 will be the last FOPP course led by John Bachner. The FOPP 31 seminar will be the last seminar. Do your best to be there.
7Can we modify one of the Research-Assignment Compendium topics to make it more suitable for our needs?
Absolutely! You can modify; you can combine two or three; etc. Make the topic something that will be of genuine benefit to your firm.
8I see from survey reports that FOPP's weakest element is the mentoring participants receive from people in their own firms. What should I do if I believe my mentor is not giving me the support I need?
Throughout FOPP’s Part 1 distance learning, FOPP participants work with a mentor inside their firms. We give guidance to the mentor, and you need to ensure that your mentor follows that guidance. If that’s not the case, you need to have a “heart-to-heart” with your mentor, something that of itself can be a valuable experience. If your mentor cannot provide effective mentoring, due to time demands or for any other reason, chose a replacement mentor. If no one in your firm can provide mentoring, contact FOPP staff. They probably can provide a mentor, although from another firm.
9Can I get an early start?
Yes. Once you have registered and paid for “FOPP Part 1: Distance Learning,” you will be able to download FOPP materials from the course website, including the course schedule and deadlines; the Research Assignment Compendium; and Practice Management for Design Professionals, by John Bachner, one of two course books. You may also select a project or create one of your own; submit it to FOPP for approval; and begin your research.
10For my final report, do I need to submit a "clean" copy in addition to a final report that is highlighted or that shows tracked changes?
You do not need to submit a "clean" copy; just one where changes are highlighted or that show tracked changes.
11Do I get my final report back?
No. We simply inform you about the grade John gave your final report. John marks up portions of some final reports, but not in a way that can benefit participants. If your final-report grade is lower than the grade John gave to your second-report submission, chances are you failed to follow an important instruction.
12Terra Insurance Company provides professional-liability insurance to my firm. Terra has subsidized its insureds’ FOPP participation for decades. How much does Terra pay? Do I take the subsidy off the amount I pay for registration?
Terra is the highest-rated professional-liability insurer in the United States and, not coincidentally, it spends more on the professional development of its insureds’ personnel than any other insurer we’re aware of. Recognizing FOPP’s impact, Terra has been a strong supporter of FOPP almost since “day one.” The amount Terra gives for FOPP participation differs from year to year; ask Terra how much they will provide for FOPP 31. You can also check on the procedures for obtaining Terra support. Unless Terra has modified those procedures, an insured should – upon successful completion of the FOPP course – submit to Terra a copy of the paid FOPP invoice, a copy of the FOPP-participation certificate the participant earned, and a brief (no more than 250 words are needed, but more would be welcomed), written statement from the participant describing what the participant gained because of FOPP participation. Contact Terra for information about its current rules and its subsidy.
13How does project management factor into the course?
Everything you learn in FOPP will help you become a more effective project manager, especially with respect to “soft skills”; e.g., oral and written communication, dispute resolution, personal planning, and so much more; just read what past participants have had to say ( According to John Bachner, “What I’ve tried to do is develop something that integrates professionalism and business. You will learn about the history of professions and how things have changed; you will learn about contracts and insurance; we’ll address marketing and sales; and much more: the fundamentals, as advertised.”
14What amenities does the hotel offer?
Take a day or two before or after the seminar to enjoy all that’s available from The Hilton Denver Inverness and its environs. From the hotel: an on-site spa; a walking track; a jogging track; a well-equipped fitness room; indoor and outdoor swimming pools; an 18-hole golf course; a driving range and putting green; the Randy Ross tennis center; tennis courts; and pool table… and that’s not all! For other things to do at the hotel and in the area, visit the Inverness website.
15When John marks up my written materials he sometimes uses colors in addition to red. What do the different colors mean?
Nothing in particular. John uses the different colors to make it easier to discern his intent; i.e., which comment goes where.
16Where else can I get information?
Call or text John at 202-441-7879; e-mail him at Call or text Nancy McKeithen at 301-588-8668; e-mail her at
17How much does the Part 2 (seminar) hotel cost?
The rate for FOPP 31 is $189 per night, not including local taxes.
18How much time does mentor participation require?
That depends on what the mentor commits to doing. The best – often FOPP alumni themselves – participate in research-topic selection, read the text, look at all the quizzes, meet with their protégées once a week or once every-other week, and so on. Others do less. Regrettably, some do almost nothing.
19What’s the maximum number of points I can score in FOPP?
FOPP participants can earn as many as 295 points: up to 240 points from distance learning (Part 1; five quizzes, a proposal, draft report, and final report), and up to 55 points for seminar participation (Part 2; 10 points maximum for the self-introduction, 30 points for the report summary, and 15 points [includes 5-point bonus] for the conflict-resolution workshop).
20Does the FOPP grading scheme weight assignments differently?
No, but John may be somewhat lenient/generous when a particularly difficult assignment is involved, but otherwise no assignment is weighted differently from another.