I recently wrote a blog post for the Association for Project Management (APM) around the benefits of Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

Read the blog post here: https://www.apm.org.uk/blog/cpd-waste-time

The blog post is reproduced below:

Why oh why do people keep going on about continuous professional development (CPD)?  Stop wasting my time. I have done enough CPD, personal development, self-improvement, or whatever you call it, I did it all years ago. I don’t need it now, I don’t have time. I need to be getting on with the job rather than wasting time thinking about a different or new way to do it; techniques and processes don’t change that often, it is still the same as when I first learnt it 15 years ago.

Do you agree? Is this your thought process, as well as mine? Good.

Well, not good actually. Now I have you out in the open, I would like to whole heartedly disagree with you. CPD is a critical component to what programme managers, in fact any project professional, does. Without continuously improving ourselves we are lacking progression – be it in a personal, professional or project capacity.  If you are not going forwards, you are either standing still, going sideways, or going backwards – is this a position you want to be in?

I have the view that many project managers have undergone some form of formal PPM training, but I would suggest that very few manage to actively maintain skills, and dare I say, interest in project management, through undertaking regular CPD. Project management professionals, by the nature of the work, are regularly at the forefront of developments, pushing boundaries, exploring and utilising new approaches. We therefore need to undertake some form of CPD to make sure we are working with best current practice, and to allow enhanced and efficient working. This is the sign of a professional.

CPD doesn’t have to be onerous, but, as all PPMs should know, a little planning goes a long way! There are lots of different approaches to CPD.  I wrote about Self Development in the Gower Handbook of People in Project Management, and how I structure my approach around a ‘5 point plan’:

  • Assess your current status
  • Plan your development
  • Undertake development activities
  • Implement your new learning
  • Review your progress

These are logical steps, and following this process allows you to focus on the areas you wish to maintain, and those you wish to enhance. The key, I think, is to apply something new you learn as soon as possible. Not only does this help to reinforce the learning, but allows you to gain benefits quickly, thus helping to reinforce the benefits of undertaking CPD. To me it is all about taking best practice theory and making it operationally useful.

I won’t go into the range of self-development activities that exist here, there are numerous (do a quick search, maybe that could be your first CPD task). Suffice to say, that CPD doesn’t have to always be a formal course; the ability to do quick, and free, CPD is the key to success. For example, chair a meeting instead of just attending it, read a book, volunteer, write a blog (!), mentor someone, or ask for some coaching. The opportunities are endless. Just make sure that you have an ‘end in mind’, work towards it, review your learning afterwards, and then apply it.

Be honest with yourself, are you undertaking CPD? Are you standing still (or being left behind), or are you taking control of your future direction and career, and implementing a self development approach?