Personal Development. It can be hard to carve out the time to level up your skills outside of the day to day within any role. Within Product your role is continually evolving, and this requires continual learning, but the pitfalls of not planning can seriously damage your ability to grow. Read my article below on why I think planning is important and my 3 basic steps to follow when starting your development roadmap.

One reason Product is popular as a career is the fact Product professionals act as the bridge between technology and people, working cross functionally which creates the opportunity to learn within the role and organisation. Working with different internal peer groups gives each PM exposure to gain different skills and understanding from varying levels of colleagues.

However, I believe taking time outside of the day to day, away from internal peers is vital to get the most from the time invested in personal development. Day to day will always be about getting the job done and rarely allows for creative thinking outside of problem in front of you. Yes, you are working with different levels and experience of people, however you are working within a task framework.

How do you separate out the challenges and learning you may be experiencing within your day-to-day role to see how they compare to your all-round personal development goals? The simple key which many people don’t do is to actually break down where you are and where you would like to be at a set point in the future. Don’t worry at this point about getting there but do start to think about a learning road-map which will get you there.

As with many things in life, sometimes just starting is the key. It starts the journey, the road-map and is the first step, but where to start? Follow my 3 steps below to help start your learning road-map journey:


  1. Know yourself:

Knowing what areas to develop usually is built from reviewing the past. For example:

  • What areas/situations/skills did you struggle in for the past year?
  • What areas/situations/skills did you do particularly well in during the past year?
  • List the areas/skills you would like to improve on


  1. Score yourself:

Putting clear ratings against the skills you need to develop is beneficial to understand where you are now and track your progress.

  • A simple 1-10 scoring works, with a current score as a starting point.

Using a 1-10 based system then needs some clarification on what each number for each skill would mean for you, this is to ensure you have clarity on your development and have clear progression targets.


  1. How you fill the gaps?

You now know where your starting point is, the skills you would like to focus on and the areas you need support.

Once you have taken time to review this, then you can start thinking about goals and focus points which will form the first milestones on your roadmap.

Questions to think about:

  • What would you like to improve on?
  • How do you like to learn?
  • How are you best challenged?
  • How much time can you dedicate to your personal development?


The good news? The planning is now done!

You have a clear plan to work towards and achieve, now you need to find the resource and support you need either inside or outside of your current organisation. But remember the good news, you have your plan, you know what you want to achieve and what that’s based on. This will make it easier for someone else to see where they can add value to you.

Some even better news? Listen to the real-life journey of Senior Product Manager Todd Donnelly to hear how to access a range of resources which can aid personal development. Todd recently spoke to me as part of the Product 51 podcast about his passion for personal development and the impact it’s had on his career.

Full details on Product 51 and access to Todd’s podcast can be found here.

This article was written and shared by Adrienne Howlett; Co-founder and Product Partner at Digital 51.