PM Nerd

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Sharing new and unique ideas about learning and creativity for project managers. The more we learn, the more we share, the more we grow.

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Love the Process, Not the Outcome

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Enjoying Open Learning with the PMI Pikes Peak Regional Chapter

Yesterday I had the genuine pleasure of leading a workshop for my local Project Management Institute Chapter. Currently, I serve the Pikes Peak Regional Chapter as the Director of Academic Outreach. The primary goal is to reach out to local universities and form a strong working relationship. The second goal has been to help members grow professionally by exposing them to new learning resources and I hope I did that yesterday.

Just like this blog, the goal was to share what I have learned through my research into open learning. Beyond that it is up to the folks in the workshop and anyone who happens to stumble across this blog to use the information to enhance their learning.

The agenda was designed around the assumption that open learning can enhance everyone’s professional development and it felt like that was achieved. As the conversations progressed and more coffee was consumed, we began to realize that if you replace the concept of professional development with learning, you achieve the same results and probably more.

Dominique Ross, was the most engaged attendee adding even more resources to the growing list. Thank you Dominique for being so engaged and genuine during the conversation. I want to also commend you on your hard work as you begin to transition out of the military into the civilian world. Your tenacious curiosity is going to serve you well. Way to go!

Open learning provides an opportunity for all project managers to re-discover their curiosity and love of learning. This workshop was a wonderful reminder of how many professionals in our career field are constantly looking for that next great book or podcast. When I mentioned Tim Ferris, author of the Four Hour Chef and Four Hour Work Week, I smiled when I saw almost everyone’s head nod.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of enjoying a beautiful Saturday morning with fellow project managers eager to learn.

About halfway through the class, I shared my ideas about how to design a simple learning process we can all follow to enhance our learning. What do you think of this idea? How could you apply your project management expertise to become a world-class self-directed learner?

(All icons made by http://www.freepik.com from http://www.flaticon.com licensed under Creative Commons BY 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

It starts out with your goals. What do you want to learn and achieve? Then you plan your learning cycle/iteration/sprint, whatever you like to call it. I recommend we “time box” our learning into one month to three month cycles. Then before you start learning, make sure to review your plan with a mentor to make sure it is focused and in line with your grand vision. Then start learning and have a blast. Once the learning cycle is complete, measure your progress however you prefer and make sure to share your success and newfound knowledge with friends, colleagues, recruiters, bosses, and whoever else may like to hear the good news. After all that, stop by your mentor’s house to share the good news and then take time to reflect on your progress. This could be in a journal, on a smart phone, in a video blog, wherever you would like to document your historical records. Then start the whole process over again.

You can break down our learning into a 70/20/10 model. Seventy percent of the time you are learning on the job, trying out new ideas, and adjusting as you see fit. Twenty percent of the time you should be spending with a mentor asking questions and learning from someone who has walked the path you are traveling. Finally, ten percent of your time is spent reading books, watching videos, attending webinars, and enjoying any other learning resource you can find to try and gain new knowledge and skills.

Learning is a lifelong journey and I hope you all can find time to enjoy it. Yesterday was a wonderful reminder again of how many project managers are eager to enhance their learning. I hope I was able to help them take a jump to the next level in their journey.

If you would like to view the presentation, please click here.

 

Posted on: January 31, 2016 10:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Thank You For Reminding Me Why I Love Learning

This past year was an amazing year and I just wanted to say thank you. 

Thank you, ProjectManagement.com for giving me the opportunity to blog about learning and share my discoveries with such a fantastic community. 

Thank you, Project Management Institute (PMI) for giving me the opportunity to volunteer in my local chapter, Pikes Peak Regional Chapter, and to graduate with all of my awesome classmates in the Leadership Institute Masters Class of 2015. Go Frogs!

When I sat down, I wanted to write about some fantastic courses Coursera is offering to help you with your professional development in 2016. Before I forget though, I suggest checking out the Coursera Specializations. They have added some fantastic content!

Anyways, when I touched the keyboard, a burst of gratitude poured out and all I could think of was how many different ways I wanted to say thank you.

This community of project managers yearning for new ideas, best practices, and networking opportunities has been so wonderful. When I first thought of the idea to write this blog, I didn’t know what to write about. I had tried to a couple times before to blog about learning resources and you can check out my first attempt at https://kevinwraney.wordpress.com/.

The only consistent theme I found as I continued brainstorming was sharing. Just share what you love. My parents are both retired teachers, having taught for a combined 80 years in elementary school and high school. The one consistent piece of advice they gave me when I asked about their teaching methods was, present the facts and let the students take it from there. So on this blog, my primary goal has to been to share the facts I have discovered and hope you take them to the next level in your professional development.

I always thought it would be a revolutionary idea to show people how to learn using open learning resources by helping them apply some basic project management principles. Who better to help students discover the diligence and determination necessary to succeed than to show them how to apply basic project management principles when it came to their time management and developing their own self-directed curriculum? I quickly realized though that threatened the opportunity for folks to discover their own learning journey.

Every year my mom would make a huge production for her first grade students when it came time to celebrate a major holiday. My favorite was St. Patrick’s Day. For that special day, she would come in over the weekend, and patiently place tiny glittery and sparkly footprints all over the classroom along with a big green bowl of candy. The leprechauns and fairies had visited her classroom to share the special candy they prepare specially for her classroom on St. Patrick’s Day and the only evidence of their visit were the tiny green footprints. When the students came to school on Monday, they discovered one of the windows had been left open just enough so their special guests could sneak in and leave behind the delicious candy. I love my mom so much, not only for being such an awesome mom, but also because she shared with me the magic of learning and discovering your own learning journey.

We are all professionals in this community. We worry about what others think of us, how we look in our interviews, how many certifications we should earn, and how many folks are in our networks. In 2016, I hope we can re-discover the magic of learning. I hope we can re-discover the fun we experienced as children while we sat on the floor in our school library thumbing through our favorite books imagining what it felt like to fly through space or fight the evil giants threatening our kingdom.

Thank you ProjectManagement.com and PMI for giving me the opportunity to write this blog and share my ideas and learning discoveries. Thank you to everyone who has taken time to read one of my posts and thank to everyone who has shared your ideas and opinions.

I hope 2016 is just as exciting and hopefully even more magical.

Thanks mom and dad, I love you.

 

 

 

 

Posted on: January 17, 2016 01:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Gamify Your Project Team's Communication Skills

Categories: , Duolingo, gamification, learning, PMI

A couple weeks ago, I shared an idea about how you could Expand Your Cultural Awareness with Google Treks. Thanks to Google Treks, you can travel to another country and virtually enjoy an amazing experience but what about the language? I would love to travel to Romania, Croatia, or Brazil to visit some of my PMI friends but how do I learn the language quickly and enjoyably?

You probably know where this is headed so let’s cut to the chase. I introduce you to Duolingo, a 100% FREE website and app you can use to learn almost any language. In 2013, it was the iPhone App of the Year and Google’s Best of the Best. So to earn those accolades, it must be pretty sweet.  

The first thing I love is the price tag, FREE. So you can remove that anxiety. Secondly, I love how you can learn 15 different languages:

  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Dutch
  • Irish
  • Danish
  • Swedish
  • Russian
  • Polish
  • Esperanto
  • Turkish
  • Norwegian
  • Ukrainian

The third thing is how they “gamify” the learning process. Every day you receive little badges and recognition to keep you motivated. Turning the learning process into a game makes the process and experience so much more fun, no matter how old you are. Each lesson includes a variety of learning modalities depending on whether you like to read or listen to the content. There is in-lesson grading providing instant feedback about whether you answered a question correctly. If you are diligent and visit the site daily, Duolingo motivates you by recording how many days in a row you spend learning a new language. They also encourage you to invest a little “heart and soul” into your learning by providing you hearts to keep your lessons alive. You lose a heart when you answer incorrectly. When all your hearts are gone, you have to start over and try again. So make sure you are paying attention.

I recently graduated from the Project Management Institute Leadership Institute Masters Class where I became friends with 34 other amazing project managers from 18 different countries. Duolingo would have come in extremely handy. Instead of shaking their hands and greeting them in English, I could have greeted them in their native tongue, which goes a long way in forming a strong cultural bond.

Cultural awareness is a skill I believe deserves as much attention as strategic business management and technical project management. It helps project managers become stronger leaders across the globe and provides us with another tool we can add to our resume, which goes a long way towards helping us build a career anywhere on this beautiful planet.  

PMI, I recommend you add Duolingo to your next Leadership Institute Masters class so the students can add this to their toolkit and share it with their chapters. To every project manager reading this, I recommend you check out Duolingo and give it a trial run for one month. If you don’t like it, just walk away. Remember it is FREE.

Thank you for sharing this moment again and I hope you have a beautiful day.

Posted on: December 27, 2015 06:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (30)

P2PU Reminds Us to Hug a Volunteer

Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is the long lost cousin of the Project Management Institute (PMI).

They believe the power of community is transformative, open is the best way to work, and peers working together can move mountains. They realize real people sustain engagement, feedback always improves projects, comfort leads to learning, and there is more than one way to find the answer.

What warmed me heart is when I read the phrase: “A passionate & powerful team of mostly volunteers.”

P2PU fully admits they would be nothing without their inspiring community of volunteers, just like PMI. The P2PU community is global and they are working together to build a new kind of university online. They believe in the power of the community and demonstrate this by helping students and teachers build learning communities where they live. P2PU provides how-to demonstrations and learning tool kits and even provides a turnkey “School in a Box” solution to help you get up and running immediately.

Their courses have a wonderful warm energy. They aren’t your typical MOOC topics which is another reason to fall in love with P2PU. The main topics focus on mathematics, data, web design, education, and open learning. They are committed to being at the front of the open learning movement when the dam breaks and everyone realizes the fantastic opportunities open learning provides to everyone.

P2PU is one of the best learning resources available to project managers because they honor and appreciate the power of community. None of our projects will succeed unless our team and clients come together as a community. PMI will never succeed without the power of its volunteers. Communities are where we measure and evaluate our learning experience.

The goal of learning is to share our new found knowledge and skills with the communities we love and to give back to those who helped us along the way. Regardless of your grades and how well you did on the final exam, the real measure of a successful education is how much you help your community.

The same is true in our projects. The value you deliver is only measured by your client and those who will use your team’s solution. So by starting out with the community in mind, you quickly begin delivering value to those who most need it.

P2PU reminds us about the power of community and giving back to the folks who make it all come together, the volunteers. So when you sign up for a course, please take time to think about who you want to help with the knowledge you are about to learn and please, give a volunteer a hug because without them, none of this is possible.

Thank you P2PU for reminding us about the importance of communities and volunteers.

Posted on: November 25, 2015 10:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

Thank You NovoEd for Helping Me Smile

Categories: MOOC, NovoEd, PMI

NovoEd prides themselves on being a social learning platform where students can collaborate across the globe to work on real world projects. Like other Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) providers, they provide world class content but what distinguishes them from other providers is their focus on the social collaboration of learning.

After reading through their site a bit more, I started to notice how similar their learning experience is to the working world of project managers. Take some of their tag lines for example:

  • “Network with peers, alumni, and mentors”
  • “Learn to lead and work in a team”
  • “Join the world’s classroom”

This phrase probably stood out the most:

“Our courses are built on sound pedagogical foundations to help you learn to be a better team player, creative thinker and problem solver in an active, social, learning environment. Our innovative technology keeps you connected with other students so that you can exchange ideas, work on group projects, get feedback, and form relationships with other learners that last well beyond the course’s end.”

If I didn’t tell you this was an academic organization, you may have thought I was talking about a new professional development program for project managers at some cool hip startup up company.

NovoEd has become one of my favorite MOOC providers because of their focus on the social interactions of learning and the social impact of empowered learners. They look beyond the traditional boundaries of learning to provide unique opportunities most students would not even consider.

Lately, I have been working with a few non-profit organizations in my local community. While reading through the NovoEd website, I came across an opportunity to earn a Certificate in Social Impact Leadership from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. This would be perfect for those nonprofits I have been trying to help as well as the local Project Management Institute (PMI) chapter I volunteer with. PMI, I think you need to give NovoEd a call and see if they are interested in providing these courses to PMI chapters. Check out these awesome classes that make up the certification:

  • Leadership: Ten Rules for Impact and Meaning
  • How to Scale Social Impact
  • Fundraising: How to Connect with Donors
  • Financial Modeling for the Social Sector
  • Global Social Entrepreneurship
  • Organizational Capacity: Assessment to Action
  • Essentials of Nonprofit Strategy

NovoEd reminds me of how social and collaborative learning really is. The goal of learning is not just to learn something new but to also share what we have learned with as many people as possible so we can help this world be a better place. When you break down the professional world into simple chunks, it really comes down to learning and helping. As project managers, we are professional helpers. To continue doing what we do, we need resources like NovoEd to help us learn new skills and ideas so we can continue making this world smile.

Thank you NovoEd for helping me smile today :)

Posted on: November 24, 2015 11:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)
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