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John P. Reiling: Powerful Tip for PMP Candidates: Apply What You Learn and “Own” It!

It’s one thing to learn new things about project management, master the framework, and pass the exam. But how do you put it into practice rapidly so that you truly “own” it?

As I’m sure you know, it’s a reality that, as you learn, you also forget!

But what is most alarming is how much you can forget, and how fast – unless you do something about it.

Let’s get right down to the specifics. Here are specific numbers from the “Learning Pyramid”, an authority since the 1960’s and recognized by many on the subject of knowledge retention. According to the Learning Pyramid, you retain new knowledge proportionate to taking appropriate actions based on that knowledge as follows:

You retain 90% of what you learn when you teach someone else or use it immediately.
You retain 75% of what you learn when you practice what you learned.
You retain 50% of what you learn when engaged in a group discussion.
You retain 30% of what you learn when you see a demonstration.
You retain 20% of what you learn from audio-visual.
You retain 10% of what you learn when you’ve learned from reading.
You retain 5% of what you learn when you’ve learned from lecture.

So how can you translate this into something you can put into practice? How can you take action to stop knowledge from slipping away from you, sometimes almost as fast it came to you, so that you can come to OWN THAT KNOWLEDGE?

Here are four ideas:

Teach or use it immediately – Capture any insights you gather from your learning experience, record them, and share and collaborate with others, and apply on your projects.
Practice what you learned – Replace an old way of doing things with a new idea and make this new way of doing things your own.
Engage in a group discussion – Bounce your new and fresh ideas off others. Ideas for action should come out of the conversation, probably better than the original idea.
Learn from audio-visual – Review what you have several times to burn it in. If you don’t have audio-visual, build your own! the act of doing so will work wonders to help you retain!

The takeaway is to recognize that anything you learn will be subject to rapid loss, like a leaky bucket. But apply one or more of the techniques above to get actively engaged, and you’ll increasingly retain your new knowledge. One of the things that I find cuts across many of the techniques is the use of project management templates, which immediately bridge the gap between learning and knwoledge. They do not necessarily apply to everything you are doing, but they are a tool for putting lessons learned into practice.

John Reiling, PMP
PM Training Online


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