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John P. Reiling, PMP:: Leverage “Just in time Learning” Concepts for Certification Success

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The pace of change gets faster every day, and that means we need to learn faster and faster.  But that does not mean we can skim and not learn as well!  If anything we need to not only learn faster, but also better.

“Just in time learning” concepts can allow us to learn faster and understand better.  The basic concept is that we learn “just in time” for us to use the knowledge.  That way, we can apply it right away, and in doing so, we firm up our knowledge.  The idea is that if we do not apply what we learn right away, that knowledge withers away and disappears.

“Just in time learning” tends to work well, but the problem is that we often cannot apply everything right away.  The reality is that some people are between jobs, others are focused in more limited functions, and some are simply trying to break into a new field.  Given this reality, how do we leverage the concept of “just in time learning” to get the most out of our education and training efforts, especially for broad-based certifications like the PMP or CAPM?

Let’s look a little deeper at “just in time training”.  The key idea is that we need to attach any new knowledge to something else in our brains.  We need to draw connections between what we know and what we are learning.  I say that WE CAN leverage the benefits of “just in time training”, even when it is not apparent, by sort of “tricking” our minds.

Here are a few ideas of how we can bring our new learning into reality and draw those critical connections:

1. Re-think past experiences that are ultra clear in our minds.  For example, if we are studying for the PMP, we might sketch out some ideas as to where on our last project we have seen the triple constraint, or perhaps fell short on risk management or stakeholder management techniques.  We need to ask ourselves the question, “How might I have leveraged that concept for better results in that situation?”

2. Think about others’ projects.  If we were to advise them, what might we tell them to do based on what we are learning?  What questions would we ask?  This clearly can compress and solidify our learning , and can also help us to bolster our networking capabilities!

3. Apply concepts on the job right away.  While this may be the best technique, the scope of our responsibilities and experiences may not fully permit it.  However, since part of the objective of PMP and CAPM certification is to broaden our perspective as a Project Manager, we can benefit by thinking through what we would do if we did have a particular responsibility in our current work.

4. Apply project management tools and techniques to our personal projects, including work on our homes, volunteer work, planning for trips, and the like.  We should not overlook this opportunity, as we can actually bring some improvements to our own lives!  The PMI has advocated that highly in a recent publication.

5. Create our own “virtual” project.  There are many projects at work and home that we can envision but that have never been initiated – and perhaps never will.  But that does not have to stop us from “Imagineering” and thinking through such projects, utilizing what we are learning as we learn.

Learning is best accomplished in an active manner, and that means connecting new knowledge and ideas to what we already know of current experiences.  Taking this type of active approach to our certification training gives us the opportunity to “trick ourselves” into thinking that our training is “just in time”, thus learning more rapidly and deeply.


Project Management Training Online provides online certification training for PMP/CAPM, ITIL, Business Analysis, Six Sigma, and other certifications.  See www.pmtrainingonline.com.


1 comment to John P. Reiling, PMP:: Leverage “Just in time Learning” Concepts for Certification Success

  • The point we need to remember is that JIT learning can be really useful only when there is a conducive ‘transfer climate’ – in addition to the usual requirement that it should be internally driven as a need from the trainee standpoint. As opposed to ‘education’ which is a form of learning for the long-haul and often has no direct or immediate use (not that it can’t have, but typically an education is really a long-term investment), a training tends to meet immediate and short-term goals. What normally happens, unfortunately, is that people go for a training program and come back to their desks and start doing the daily things. If there is no ‘transfer climate’, meaning the environment where newly learned skills could be immediately deployed on a real-world problem, those newfound knowledge tends to get pushed to backburner. By the time there is actually a legitimate need to apply that knowledge, it has either become stale, or we have forgotton most of it. So, the best things is really to ensure that a proper ‘transfer climate’ indeed exists.