Book Review -The Self-Managed Development Pocketbook by Fiona Elsa Dent

Self managedThe Self-Managed Development Pocketbook by Fiona Elsa Dent is another of the mini-books from the Management Pocketbook series. This mini-book which the author describes as, “a pocketful of tips, techniques and tools to further your development and put you in charge of your career and your life” has some very useful information which can help each of us plan and act on our own self-directed development.

The book has just 106 pages and is split into eight sections. Each section is briefly reviewed below.


The book starts out with an introduction which describes the importance of self-managed development and provides a definition. It is defined as:

…the process whereby you take responsibility for, and control of, your own development


The second section answers the ‘why’ of self-managed development. It identifies some key reasons for it such as:

  • organisational change
  • career changes
  • role changes within the organisation.

changes in organisations and the fact that individuals can no longer expect to play static roles within organisations anymore are reasons that are central to why we all need self-managed development.

There is also some information on why individuals should invest in self-managed development and an activity to get us started on it.


This section introduces a model for self-managed development which is covered in more detail in the following sections. The model shows the interaction between external and personal factors and how they impact self-managed development. The external factors are:

  • Business objectives
  • Learning relationships
  • Career objectives
  • Learning activities.

While the personal factors are:

  • Self-analysis
  • Reflection
  • Action planning


Business objectives: by understanding the business objectives of our organisations and teams, we can put self-managed development into context. In other words, we can choose self-managed development activities which align with business objectives.

Career objectives: our career objectives are fluid and will be affected by external factors. Reflecting on where we are now, how we got there and where we want to go in the future will give us ideas about appropriate self-managed development.

Learning relationships: developing appropriate learning relationships will aid our self-managed development. These learning relationships can be in the form of role models, coaches, mentors and learning partners. In this section most of the content is devoted to exploring learning relationships.

Learning activities: these are day-to-day activities that we take part in that offer us opportunities to grow, learn and develop. Some examples are:

  • Project work
  • Secondments
  • Elearning
  • Attending conferences
  • On-the-job coaching
  • Giving a presentation
  • Chairing a meeting

According to Fiona:

The important thing about a learning activity is that you have to make it one!


This is the first of the model’s personal factors. Self-analysis is about becoming aware of yourself so you can identify where and how you need to focus your self-managed development. Some ideas discussed for self-analysis in order to raise our self-awareness are:

  • Doing a SWOT analysis on yourself.
  • Analyzing your current job
  • completing self-assessment questionnaires
  • Performance reviews
  • Receiving feedback from colleagues


The next personal factor is reflection. After self-analysis, reflection is about reflecting on, and reviewing what you learnt about yourself. It helps you to understand where you are now, where you want to go and what actions you need to take. Other aspects of reflection discussed is asking others for feedback and visualizing the future.


This is the last of the personal factors and it involves putting together a self-development plan to identify:

  • what you want to achieve
  • how you will achieve it
  • who can help you in the process
  • any barrier or constraints you might encounter
  • when you want to achieve it

In relation to developing a self-development plan other areas discussed in this section include:

  • potential pitfalls of putting a development plan together
  • getting achievable goals for the plan
  • components of the plan
  • learning logs
  • types of goals
  • commitment and motivation


The book concludes with a summary of the key points and it’s worth reading through them as a refresher of what the book focused on.

Overall this is an easy book to read but one with very useful information. It is highly visual with lots of pictures and structured in a way that makes learning from it easy. It is one of those books you can finish reading in a single sitting and you won’t regret it.





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