Years ago, I decided that I wanted to become a project manager. I had a great job managing about 50 Information Technology professionals, but the company I was working for was not supportive of project management. I made the difficult decision to change companies and jobs.
I was hired as a project manager by my new employer, but frankly, I knew very little about project management. Furthermore, I was not a very good project manager…I had lots to learn. How did I learn? How did I apply the new knowledge in practical ways to drive project success?
Fortunately, I had a great boss and mentor. Theron took time each week to coach me, to share articles, and to point me to books. He also challenged me to get my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, which I did. Since that time, I’ve been on a journey to learn and apply project management to help companies deliver products and services.
Perhaps you’re looking for ways to boost your project management knowledge and skills. Regardless of how long we’ve been on our project management journeys, we should never stop learning. Here are 17 ways to learn more.
- Podcasts. I run three times per week. I regularly strap my iPhone to my arm and dial in free podcasts via Stitcher. Click here for a list of excellent project management podcasts. One other favorite podcast I would mention is Michael Hyatt’s This is Your Life Podcast.
- Reading. “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers,” said Harry S. Truman. Get inside the heads of world class project managers through reading project management books. Here are some of my favorite books.
- Audio Books. I spend a fair amount of time traveling. When I do, I listen to books on Audible.
- Book Study. Project managers often create study groups when preparing for the PMP exam. Why not create study groups to read and discuss additional project management and business analysis books?
- Video Courses. Check out the online video sources such as Lynda, Udemy, and PMI E-Learning.
- Conferences. One of the best ways to network and learn more about project management is through conferences.
- Blogs. Project managers and leaders around the world share their experiences and knowledge. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Webinars. What’s there not to like about webinars? No travel. Convenient. Often filled with valuable content. Usually free. PMI provides some excellent webinars.
- Teach. “I have learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” -Maya Angelou. The previous ideas that I’ve shared are consumption activities. However, one of the best ways I learn is through teaching. Teaching requires study, analysis, organization of material, practice, and “throwing something back.”
- Mentor. Find a mentor or be a mentor.
- Asking Questions. Lou Holtz said, “I never learn anything talking. I one learn things when I ask questions.” Ask the right questions at the right time.
- Learn by Doing. “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn,” said Benjamin Franklin.
- Learn from Difficulties, Mistakes, and Failures. “Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward,” said Henry Ford. See your failures as ways to learn what not to do and to reach your ultimate destination.
- Writing. “Learn as much by writing as by reading,” said Lord Acton. One of the reasons I blog is to learn. Writing is a great tool for gathering and expressing your thoughts which help move things into your long term memory.
- Lessons Learned. “Prepare the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” -George S. Patton. Often project managers hurry to their next projects without learning from their former projects. Take the time to examine your projects and determine what you will do differently going forward.
- Discussion Groups. Check out the project management discussion groups on LinkedIn. Project managers at all levels ask questions, provide answers and debate issues.
- Mastermind Groups. I have not participated in a mastermind group, but I hear great things about these groups. It’s a great concept for learning, encouraging one another, and holding one another accountable.
If you are certified through the Project Management Institute, you can also earn Professional Development Units (PDUs) through self-directed learning, creating new content, and doing your job. Don’t forget to record your Professional Development Units (PDUs) and maintain your certification.
Question: What method do you find most helpful in learning about project management?