Personal development action planning starts with the "What?" and "Why?" before the "How?"

From the Easy in theory, difficult in practice Blog
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My musings on project management, project portfolio management and change management. I'm a firm believer that a pragmatic approach to organizational change that addresses process & technology, but primarily, people will maximize chances for success. This blog contains articles which I've previously written and published as well as new content.

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Categories: Personal Development


How many times have you been on a project where your customer or some other key stakeholder has prematurely tried to jump to a solution without having fully articulated their needs and wants? This behavior gives rise to many risks including wasted effort, the perceived loss of autonomy for delivery team members, and a loss of optionality.

So why should we consider our personal development to be any different?

Translating the vision for where we see ourselves in the future into reality meets the PMBOK® Guide's definition of a project in that is a unique endeavor (there is only one "you") and will definitely be temporary (until someone invents immortality).

Through online discussion groups and in the in-person interactions I've had with fellow practitioners, two of the more common questions I am asked are:

  • "I've just attained credential or certification X - what should I do next?"
  • "Should I pursue credential X or credential Y?"

A reasonable assumption is that I'm asked these questions because I do list a number of certifications after my name in my professional written communications.

In such situations, I'm often tempted to channel my internal Twisted Sister (I was heavily influenced by 80's hair bands) and yell "What Do You Want To Do With Your Life!". Before I can attempt to help the requestor, I need to understand what they are aspiring to be and why that's important to them.

The same is true for those who aspire to a higher titled role within their companies. Is that a means to an end (and if so, the only means) or is it the end unto itself.

As with negotiations, let's seek to understand interests before jumping to positions.

Posted on: October 06, 2019 03:33 AM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Who does not understand that what is most important is the journey (knowledge acquired through personal and professional life) will always ask for: "what is the destination" (certifications)?

Thanks for the text, Kiron, I think it happens quite often that we are lost among different tasks, without even asking ourselves "why and what for". It is like treating multitasking as our aim, forgetting about the sense of this whole "this task is so important that I need to pay the same amount of attention to everyone of them". Recently I met a text about multitasking at work and its darker side - https://kanbantool.com/blog/why-we-need-to-stop-multi-tasking-right-now and I started to look for similar attitude in terms of personal development. Then I met your text, I am grateful for it and I go further to look for other wise resources :)

I totally agree with you Kiron. If you jump into solutions without understanding what you’re solving then you will be doing more harm than good.

We should follow the saying: Prepare and Prevent rather Repair and Repent.

It's a great question, and certainly valid insight and/or inspection on ensuring we maintain a telling and consistent narrative. Similar to asking [proding] our business partners on the why behind a request, we should do the same for ourselves. Not to be negative or act as a naysayer, but as a sanity check from a different perspective.

Thanks Luis - the journey IS the reward.

Love that saying, Rami - gonna remember it!

Thanks Andrew - BTW, the new headshot rocks!

We all have that journey to make, but who said it was an easy path.. we cant find the solution without understanding the route...

….Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment - Rita Mae Brown

thanks for sharing Kiron

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