Unlocking Success in Project Management Through Lifelong Learning

person on a computer with a light bulb
“Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field (especially project management).” – Brian Tracy
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” – William Pollard
“Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought after with ardour and diligence.” – Abigail Adams
“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” – Thomas Huxley


The quotes above are just four of many quotes, articles, and online content about life-long learning. The importance of learning, unlearning, and relearning cannot be overemphasized in our world today. When you look deep into organizations and people who enjoy continuous success and continue to lead their peers, you will often find that a culture of lifelong learning plays a pivotal role in their achievements. We live in a rapidly changing world where hardly anything stays the same for long. Technology keeps evolving rapidly; organizations are transforming faster than ever to help them stay competitive, and the way we do things continues to change. For the most part, we are all playing catchup.  

The project management field and the role of a project manager have not been left behind and continue to evolve with new methodologies, approaches, tools, skills, etc., being introduced regularly. Not too long ago, when you thought of project management tools you would have Microsoft Project and Primavera, with Microsoft Excel also used in some quarters. Fast-forward to today, there are almost as many project management tools as cereal types! In addition to the several tools available in the industry, the difference in the organizational structure and maturity of the PM practice can vary widely from one organization to another. All of these make it necessary for project management professionals to be adaptable, flexible, and quick learners.  

Occasionally, I am asked why I chose to be a Project Manager. I always tell people how much I love the fact that no two projects are ever the same. While there will be some parallels and comparable characteristics, a project being done at different times or with different systems makes each one a unique experience. When you consider the dynamism of the profession, the broad differences in the practice from one company to another, and the continuous increase in the responsibilities of a PM on a project, you will discover that the way to ensure relevance and growth is to maintain an attitude of learning. 

While some organizations provide the benefits of specialized work and well-defined roles, not every PM will have the opportunity to work in an ideal environment throughout their career. At one point or another, a PM will be required to put on more than one hat for a project. For example, you might need to build the project requirements or help manage organizational change. In these scenarios, a significant contribution to the project’s success will be the PM’s ability to perform these roles as efficiently as possible. This can also be a critical skill for organizations focused on reducing costs. By playing different roles in the organization, project managers can help move tasks ahead quicker and more efficiently, especially when resources are limited, which is more common than not. 

The question is often asked: how important it is for a project manager to know about the field in which a project is being implemented?

While we know that it is not always a requirement to know about a field, I believe we will agree that it is essential. A project manager would probably enjoy some success on projects with the right people (SMEs, professionals, management, sponsors, etc.). However, the chances of success increase exponentially when you have some knowledge about the work being done. While you do not need to be an expert in the field, having some foundational knowledge will help you understand the technical discussions, ask the right questions, and interpret the technical details in business language for communication with the business. Communication is arguably the most crucial skill for a project manager, as it is 80% of what the role requires. With that in mind, it is easy to understand why learning about the solution, technology, field, or area of the project is crucial to your project’s success and to your career as a project manager. 

The evolving project management landscape, dynamism, and unique nature of projects, increased expectations from project managers, and the need for foundational technical knowledge are all essential reasons to develop a habit of learning. However, the list will not be complete if we do not talk about learning from previous projects.  

Every project manager who wants to grow in their career must be intentional about learning from what went well, so it can be repeated, and improved upon and what did not go as planned, so it is not repeated. It was John Maxwell who said “experience isn’t the best teacher, evaluated experience is.” Apart from the usual lessons learned exercise at the end of the project, project management professionals should take time to evaluate how they performed, and to identify areas of improvement. When applied, continuous learning will enable continuous improvement, which will, in turn, help you succeed in your PM career. 

Lifelong learning is not just a buzzword. It is a necessary ingredient for success in any field, but especially in project management. As the world continues to change and organizations transform at an unprecedented pace, project managers must be adaptable, flexible, and quick learners. By staying curious, seeking out new knowledge, and learning from previous experiences, project managers can continue to grow, thrive, and remain relevant in an ever-changing world. So, let us all embrace the culture of continuous learning and make it a lifelong habit. Remember, the more we learn, the more we can achieve! 



About Hilltop Partner Network  

John Kuforiji is a trusted member of Hilltop Partner Network. To learn more about our consulting network, visit  Our Members  page.  


Written by

John Kuforiji

John Kuforiji is a Senior Cybersecurity Project Manager Consultant. He is also a trusted member of Hilltop Partner Network, a Canada-wide network of independent consultants and specialist consultancy firms. He has over ten years of experience delivering security and infrastructure projects for clients in various sectors and countries. He holds a B.Eng in Computer Engineering, a Certificate in Software Product Management, and several professional certifications, including CISSP, PMP, COBIT and ITILv3.

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