The speed with which stakeholders expect projects to be completed in the modern corporation often makes it extremely challenging to focus on learning. Project management practitioners are asked to deliver projects as quickly as possible with as little as possible. In the process of doing setting project goals, creating the project plan, and executing we forget the important element of enhancing our own knowledge. While we apply best practices such as capturing lessons learned to help the organization be better prepared on future projects, we rarely think about our own continuing education.
I wonder if there is an expectation on behalf of stakeholders that PM practitioners should only impart knowledge rather than gain it as well. This may even be more amplified in consulting where practitioners are expected to come prepared to deliver rather than first learn. After all, why would a client pay the consultant to learn?
The challenge in this approach is that it sets unrealistic expectations about human interactions. Furthermore it fosters a superiority complex in the practitioners as they are lead to believe that their knowledge is more important than that of the people they are working with.
I want to explore this also from another perspective by looking at the medical profession. Every day people go to doctors to seek advice or in search of relief of various problems. As a consumer, I believe great doctors are professionals who approach patients without that superiority complex that I discussed earlier. They look at their “customer interaction” as not only an opportunity to help others but also as a learning opportunity to improve. They take the time to ask questions and address concerns. I believe the same holds true for project management practitioners. Great project managers treat every interaction as a possible learning opportunity to receive and impart knowledge.