stances of a product owner

Navigating the Challenge of What to Learn Next Requires a Personalized Compass

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About the author Stephan Rooden
Stephan is highly skilled Product Management consultant, Professional Scrum Trainer and Entrepreneur. An experienced and energetic management- and teamtrainer. Storyteller and insight-bringer with an addition of way beyond a hundred practical examples.

Are you struggling to choose the next course you should attend? How do you perform compared to your peers? And where are the areas to improve as a product manager? We don’t have to convince you that your job requires continuous development of your skills and knowledge. And although it might be a challenge, you are willing to free up time to invest in your personal development. But it must be worth your while. Let’s explore the imperative for growth, how to discover your learning preferences, and the power of self-assessment in your journey toward becoming a more effective product professional.

The Imperative for Growth

Did you ever attend a training course where you didn’t learn anything? Or have you ever walked out of a presentation at a conference because it was not relevant for you? Finding a learning resource that fits your needs and is worth your time is hard! But you also know that to stay relevant and effective, product professionalsmust embrace a mindset of continuous growth.

Over time you have learned what works for you and what you need to do to be an effective product professional today, but that may not work tomorrow. But how you got there, was that the most effective journey? Were the learning resources you tapped into the most effective?

Think of the last three courses you attended, the last five articles you read, or the last 20 LinkedIn posts you read. Was the time you spent on this the most effective use of your time. Did you learn something new that was relevant to what you needed or wanted to learn?

Discovering Your Learning Preferences

Effective learning is not one-size-fits-all. Each of us has a unique learning style and preferences. Understanding your preferred learning style is a critical step in your growth journey as a product professional. Reflect on your past learning experiences. Think about the methods and environments that have resonated with you the most. Did you excel in a classroom setting, or did you learn best when you had the freedom to explore and experiment on your own? Recognizing your learning preferences will help you tailor your growth strategies to align with how you learn best.

A couple of learning preferences

Learn by observation

Daily practice forms your best learning environment, and it is hectic, unpredictable, and constantly on the move. You prefer to learn by observing closely and seeing what works. You analyze what leads to success and what is useful and adopt that. Not all information is interesting to you. You are particularly interested in what works.

Learning together

Knowledge is not something objective, it’s formed in the conversation, in the exchange between people. By connecting to each other,  by exchanging perspectives, to listen or simply because others are a sparring partner. Thereby clarifying and sharpening your own ideas. You are fed by reactions and ideas of others.

Acquire knowledge

You might have a strong preference for acquiring knowledge. You attach great value to objective knowledge. When faced with a problem, you first ask yourself what is already known. You engage in a targeted search for information. Experts and professionals (who know the ins and outs) are your preferred discussion partners. And while ‘books’ can play a role in all preferences, you are a reader who likes to read from cover to cover.


You prefer to first try it out. Preferably in an environment that is safe enough to be allowed and dare to make mistakes, before putting the new insights into practice. The “learning” context here is a context with a limited degree of complexity, so that you can gradually practice something new and focus on what you still need to learn. There is enough time for reflection. Errors are a source of information. There is someone next to you who can guide you, simplify situations, point out things or provide something that will take you a step further.


Learning in a formal learning situation (such as a training or workshop) might be too restrictive and structured for you. You like to find your own way. That is not necessarily the most efficient way. As long as it is the most interesting way you are happy. Whether it’s the desire to build and the urge for creativity, or the critical eye, learning is being at the helm yourself.

The Power of Self-Assessment

Now that you have seen that many struggle with navigating their learning journey. And have considered your learning preferences, let’s dive into a powerful tool that can supercharge your professional development: The Product Compass self-assessment. The Product Compass Self-assessment involves a critical evaluation of your product management competencies. It’s not just about looking in the mirror; it’s about gathering data that can guide your growth.

Leveraging Data and Personal Insights

Once you’ve complete your self-assessment, you’ll have valuable data at your fingertips. This data can provide insights into your strengths and weaknesses as a product professional. You might discover that you excel in customer centricity and ideation but need improvement in collaboration or your product to market capabilities.

However, the real power of self-assessment lies in combining data-driven insights and your experiences and stories provide context to the numbers. For example, if your self-assessment shows a low rating in product delivery, you might recall a specific situation where your lacked knowledge caused delays or misunderstandings. These anecdotes add depth to your self-assessment, making it more actionable.

Crafting a Personalized learning journey

With data and personal insights in hand, you’re well-equipped to craft a personalized learning journey. The Product compass will provide you with an outline how to improve your competencies as a product professional.

Your learning journey should be tailored to your unique needs and aspirations. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach but rather a roadmap designed specifically for you. This personalization ensures that your efforts are focused on the areas that will have the greatest impact on your success as a product professional.

Tracking Progress and Adjusting

Once you’ve set your growth plan in motion, it’s essential to track your progress and regularly adjust your plan based on data-driven feedback. If you notice that your chosen learning methods aren’t producing the desired results, be open to trying different approaches. Adaptation is a key element of successful growth.

Want to try?

The Product compass is a very useful tool to help you navigate your personal learning journey. The time, effort, and honesty you spend in completing the self-assessment gives you a tailed suggested learning journey. Start your Product Compass today!

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