Today I continue my summer series based on an article written by Roy Osing called “10 Things Smart Business People Do” (The Globe and Mail, June 3, 2016).


I want to stress that this advice goes to all of us… project managers, business analysts, senior managers, leaders at all levels, my four kids and a good reminder to me.


In his article, Osing says smart business people “Are relentless and voracious learners. Standing still intellectually isn’t an option in a world changing every instant. Value added to the organization depends on business people ‘keeping up.’ They believe staying ahead requires learning leadership.”


I think some of us have a tendency during our careers to become complacent about our learning. It seems that we have stages along the way where we are comfortable with our status in our professional lives and thus we think there is no need to continue to learn. But as Osing says, this world keeps changing and we need to keep up.


A great example of this is project management. When I got involved in 1997 the world was starving for project managers that understood technology and telecommunications. There was such a shortage of these types that if you had any of this experience and a little bit of project management training you could write your own ticket. As the project management boom continued we all became complacent and way too confident. Our communities told us that our job was to build it on time, on scope and on budget. Anything beyond that was not our problem – so don’t worry about anything else. You have your PMP – you are good to go. You have 10 year’s experience so relax, they will be plenty of work for you for years to come.


Most project managers allowed this attitude to control their futures. They seldom looked outside the world of project management and thus became one of hundreds, if not thousands, of good PMs doing a good job but no more than that.


The smart people didn’t believe it. They looked beyond the ‘same old’. They continued to ask “What’s next?”. They tried to stay ahead of the curve and be one of the special group in their field who could do more than just deliver on time, on scope and on budget.


Continuous learning is the key to staying ahead of the curve. Finding your weaknesses and taking courses to improve in these areas. Identifying your strengths and sharpening those skills to be even better in those areas. Studying and learning about your industry and future trends through books, meetings and conferences. Identifying key people in your industry that can help you learn and discover where you can be tomorrow.


Continuous learning is the mark of great leader and certainly, as well, the mark of future success in any business.


Everything is changing around us so quickly. We need to position ourselves for the future. When they look around for a new manager, a new leader, a new BA or a new project manager the key to success is an established reputation as someone who has an idea of what tomorrow might look like and is able to add value to that scene.


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