A couple weeks ago at an Open Learning workshop I facilitated for the PMI Mile Hi Chapter, we discussed how to apply all of the knowledge and skills learned from open learning resources. Most of what I have been preaching is about learning and sharing but application, especially for project managers, is hugely important.
So I went home to try and brainstorm how to apply what we learn. While looking through my PMI-ACP study materials, I began to wonder if we could apply the concept of user stories and personas to our learning goals. Would those answer the application question?
In software development projects, the team defines user requirements in the form of personas and user stories. Personas capture the traits and personality of each unique user who will enjoy the solution. The user stories are short simple descriptions of features told from the perspective of the users who will enjoy the solution. A simple format for user stories is, as a (user title), I want to (goal of feature) so that (benefit and value of feature).
What if we flipped it around for our own learning and place ourselves in the shoes of the teams or organizations who will benefit from our newfound knowledge and skills? For our learning goals, what if we write them in the form of personas that we want to inhabit once we have reached a level of competency and mastery where we feel comfortable describing ourselves as that new persona. This could be validated by demonstrating our new skills to our teams or organizations or by the fact we are hired for that new job we have been dreaming about.
We can then take it a little further and describe the experience or feelings we create for others in the form of a story. It could take the same shape as a user story and be adapted to our situation: As a (persona title), I will provide (experience enjoyed by the team or organization) so that (benefit and value of the experience).
This conversation reminds me of Maya Angelou’s quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
If we want to apply our learning and make it matter, we have to begin by visualizing how we want to make people feel. A recent article I came across on LinkedIn pointed out that people judge you on 2 basic criteria, warmth and confidence. So that should be the measurement of your learning. If you are able to prove your competency and project an aura of warmth because of your learning, then you are applying your newfound knowledge and skills and making this world a better place.
Writing your goals in terms of personas and user stories can help you create a good “definition of done.” This provides you a better idea of how to apply your learning and figure out when you have mastered a skill and are ready to move on to the next learning goal.
The ultimate expression of a successful student is when she can walk out the front the door and bring a smile to someone’s face walking down the street. So when you are writing about the new persona you want to become and what kind of experience you want to create for your team or organization, measure your success and “definition of done” in the numbers of smiles you create and laughter you generate.
Thank you for sharing this moment.