Think you need that self-help book? Think again.

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013 By Jack Nevison

You've seen these books before.

They tend to occupy the shelves nearest to the bookstore's front entrance, rubbing covers with hard​-boiled mystery novels, celebrity cookbooks and this month's inside scoop on Washington's political scene. Their titles are bold and colorful, as are their authors, whose cover images and questionable tanning decisions project an aura of confidence and success. And even though they're priced to sell at 30 percent off, these books are certified bestsellers.

It's tempting to buy a self-help book that promises to improve your management skills. But even if it is on sale, you should think twice before spending your money.

At best, you'll get a collection of tips that read as if they have been gleaned from Poor Richard's Almanac and updated for the 21st century ("You make your own luck; no pain, no gain; and don't eat too much or your health care costs will explode…") None of this is bad advice, per se, though most project managers may be looking for something more specific.

At worst, this advice can be overly simplistic or completely wrongheaded. Writing for the Harvard Business Review, contributor Freek Vermeulen suggests that many self-help authors who focus on business advice can be quite persuasive—for all the wrong reasons.

"They are neither crooks nor charlatans; they write what they believe," he wrote. "But that doesn't make their beliefs right. People can believe vigorously in voodooism, homeopathy, and creationism."

Project managers who are trying to maintain their PMP® certification don't need a self-help book. They need a program that strengthens a valuable skill, then tests what has been learned and awards PDUs for a good score. That's what New Leaf offers with its QPM™ series of estimating games.

"PMI," PMP," and "PMBOK" are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

"QPM" is a registered mark of New Leaf Project Management. All rights reserved.

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