Project Management

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Topics: Career Development, Ethics, New Practitioners
Does project management skills have a shelf life?
Life changes, project changes...sometimes in a project/program we know that we have all figure out and others that we feel that we don't know nothing at all.

I love to learn new things, develop new skills...however do you think that some project management skills have a shelf life? a sell-by-date? date of expiration?
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Dear Mayte,
interesting topic, thanks for sharing!
I believe yes for those linked with software
Thanks
Hamid
Great question Mayte. The science and practice is always evolving, especially in fast moving fields like technology. The pace of change is not constant either so even anticipating the useful lifetime of your skillset is no easy thing. The best response is to keep learning, experimenting and adapting.
Mayte -

Our skills are like tools in a toolbelt. They are used situationally, and sometimes the context for a given tool occurs less and less. That shouldn't mean we throw the tool out, but we may not invest as much effort in continuing to hone our skills in using it. Similarly, new tools emerge and we need to learn how to use those...

Kiron
When you learn the basics of the project management body of knowledge, it is like you study a cookbook and learn to cook. Along the time, you prepare more recipes in the Project Management practice. New innovative recipes may appear, but with your knowledge and experience acquired, you are capable of preparing them. Also, you can create your own recipes, tailored to the specific needs of your organization.
An interesting question. For me it is more about utilization our learning and keep improving. It is like you learn how to drive a car. More you sit on the driving seat and move through different paths you will get better and better. But even if you do not drive, skills to drive a car is still with you. You will be able to use it when it is really required and may be we lag behind if we do not upgrade our-self with the latest technological changes (including SW tools) and newer skills required to manage the projects.
Hi Mayte

I believe you can compare PM skills to excelling in other fields like sports.

You'll never forget some basic skills (it's like riding a bicycle).

Some more advanced skills require deliberate and somewhat regular practice for you to be on top of things and hone them proficiently. If you haven't practiced then for a while, you might need a little bit to get back in shape.

There are also new skills you need to keep honing and adding them to your toolbelt for you to keep relevant and competitive.
I would argue no. As the business landscape changes around us we merely adapt our skills to fit. How we plan has evolved but we still plan, how we communicate has evolved but we still communicate. In the majority of cases it is not the WHAT that changes but the HOW. We, therefore, do not shelve skills but we enhance it.
There is no shelve life. You just keep accumulating your skills and use them when appropriate.

You need to always be developing new skills to complement your existing skills. You are a student for life if you want to be a good Project Mananger.
Skills expire when they are no longer used in practice. And they should.

A hint used to be when skills are no longer mentioned in the PMBoK Guide, which was meant to include good practices, used by most projects most of the time.

For example, AoA (activity on arrow) networks are no longer mentioned, same to Pareto, and who is really manually doing forward/backwards paths to determine a critical path? Some skills never made it into the PMBoK, like LoB (line of balance).

Skills are primarily used in the practice of projects, and some may prevail over time to enable learning. But who knows how make a fire in rain without matches? Skills vanish if not used.
Soft skills should not expire, they should just keep getting better. For example, I hope that I have improved my communication and leading skills since I started my PM career. I am definetely not planning on shelving them away.

As for hard skills, they do not expire "per se", but it is undeniable that knowledge acquired c.a. 20 years ago might be no longer relevant, or not as relevant. Constant curiosity and eagerness to learn are key in order to gather new tools. For instance, the Scrum guide was released "only" 10 years ago. Whether it will be relevant in 20 years or there will be the next big thing, only time will tell.
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