Yesterday I had the great privilege of leading a workshop for the Project Management Institute Mile Hi Chapter in Denver, Colorado on Open Learning. Humbled is the first word that comes to mind. Over 90 folks (80 in person and 14 online) attended the workshop at Regis University, a Jesuit University northwest of downtown Denver. I found it wonderfully ironic that we held this 3 ½ hour conversation at a Jesuit University when it was the Jesuits who founded some of the oldest schools, colleges, and universities in the world.
Before I go any further, I must first pay my respects to the amazing volunteers in the Mile Hi Chapter who are in charge of their Saturday workshops. Tyler Pollesch is the man! He provided the vision of what the Saturday workshops try to provide and worked hand-in-hand with me throughout the entire process leading up to and during the workshop. Thank you Tyler and thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make the workshop a success. Remember to always give a volunteer a hug.
The goal for this workshop was to share open learning resources I have discovered and discuss how they can be applied to our professional development and personal learning journeys. If you want a copy of the slide deck, click on this link, PMI Mile Hi Open Learning Workshop Slide Deck.
Most of the resources revolved around Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), Open Courseware, Open Education Resources, and online learning communities like Lynda.com. One of my favorite learning resources online is Degreed and as expected, they became one of my favorite topics to talk about. If you haven’t discovered them yet, I highly encourage you to check them out and create your free profile. Degreed is awesome!
We started out talking about professional development and how it is spread across testing our new skills and knowledge on the job, to working with a mentor, and curling up with a new book or YouTube video while we continue to try and perfect our craft. Then we stepped through a lot of resources available online which I admitted only scratched the service of what is out there. Hopefully though they provided a good starting point for everyone. Then I tried to show everyone an example of how I helped a friend and his small business create a performance management and training program. Using a simple goals and objectives process, we created a measurable and fair performance management framework. Where we identified gaps and opportunities for improvements, we tried to figure out how to use open learning resources to provide on-demand training for his employees, at a very affordable price.
In the end, I like to think it was a successful workshop but I have yet to receive the results of the surveys so I am keeping my fingers crossed. What I enjoyed most was the conversation. Project managers are some of the most curious folks in our workforce. Of course I am little bias but it makes sense. We are asked to walk into any situation and get it done, no matter what, no excuses. So we have to be ready to quickly pick up the language and culture of the environment, prioritize what is important, and immediately start delivering value. Being a lifelong learner is absolutely critical if we want to continue to succeed. Possessing strong leadership, strategic business, and technical skills are necessary but what are also expected are the unseen skills; curiosity, diligence, creativity.
I have been reading Don Quixote for quite a while a now and am almost done, yeah! A quote that sticks out from the book is, “Diligence is the mother of good fortune.” Apply that to our journeys of being lifelong learners and we begin to appreciate the qualities of patience, hard work, and curiosity. The more we practice our craft and learn everything we can get our hands on, the more we grow and succeed.
Thank you again to the PMI Mile Hi Chapter Saturday Workshop Team and everyone who attended for a wonderful Saturday morning in the Rocky Mountains. I hope you all were able to walk away with a new perspective or new idea that will help you in your professional and personal journeys.
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?
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.