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Awesome Look-back on the Best of a Bad Year: 2020 in Review

2020 in Review - Awesome Look-back on the Best of a Bad Year

Let’s face it… For most of us, 2020 was not a great year. For many, it has been a bad or even awful year. Let’s look back on 2020 and review the best of it from the perspective of OnlinePMCourses.

I’ll review the content I have put out this year (in video and written form) and the three biggest lessons I learned in 2020.

It was a very Bad Year…

It’s easy to forget a lot of what has gone on because the Covid-19 Coronavirus has dominated headlines. But it seems (I’ve not checked the statistics) that this year has had its fair share or more of:

  • Natural disasters (fires, volcanoes, cyclones/hurricanes)
  • Political turmoil (Hong Kong, Brexit, US elections)
  • Ecological disasters (Oil spills, Extinctions, Deforestation)
  • Social problems (Detentions, Judicial and sub-judicial killings, Transhumance)

And on top of all that, we’ve been coping (well in some places, not so well in others) with the most serious global Pandemic since 1919.

Project Managers had a Part to Play

As Project Managers, our role in much of this has been little more than as concerned citizens. But there are project managers working at the front of initiatives to:

  • Combat the Coronavirus (hat-tip to my friend Louise)
  • Assist recovery operations to fix some of the messes we as a global society, or as national and local cultures, have created

On the other hand, we have, perforce, seen some radical changes in business and society in general. In the 1960s, science writer Arthur C Clarke business people would no longer need to live in cities. We could move to rural locations and connect with one another using video screens on personal computers.

This has been the year in which that really became the norm for many of us. It is a year since I delivered live training in front of a room full of people!

Remote Project Management in 2020

For years, Project Managers have struggled to make remote Project Management work for us. This year, it has become more important for many more of us. We are all getting far more familiar with the processes and technology that support good virtual PM and Managing Remote Teams.

Covid and Project Management

At the heart of 2020’s challenges have been two very real pressures.

In the first half of the year, we had to cope with responding to Covid. This year’s most popular article – by far – has been our 7-Step Covid-19 Response Plan for Project Managers.

At the end of this year, and the start of next, will be to deal with the challenge of Emerging from Lockdown. Take a look at our article on Project Management in the Post-COVID World.

There has been more to 2020 than Covid

In this article, I want to focus more on the business-as usual look-back on the year. I want to review the best of OnlinePMCourses content, and point you to the gems you may have missed.


It’s been a year when I have published 52 feature articles, including guest articles from:


I’ve also published over 100 videos on our OnlinePMCourses YouTube Channel, which has grown to over 23,000 subscribers and 1.5 million views of our videos. It’s been a year of rapid growth for the channel, which is 5 years old. Around 2/3 of the views and subscribers came in 2020.

New YouTube Channel

Although ot strictly Project Management I also launched a new YouTube channel in 2020. Newer Project Managers will find a lot of value on my Management Courses YouTube Channel, which offers free management training courses in a week-by-week format. In 202, I posted over 100 videos, so you’ll find courses on:

In the New Year, we’ll be starting new courses on:

All of these topics are, of course, entirely relevant to Project managers. And, if you are studying for the new format PMP exam in 2021, they are all the more relevant to you.

So, here’s what we’ll look back on in our review of 2020…

2020 in Review - Awesome Look-back on the Best of a Bad Year

Look-Back on our Best Project Management Videos of 2020

In a review of my best videos of 2020, I suppose there are two questions:

  1. Which am I most proud of?
  2. Or, which are most-watched and most-liked?

The first question is like choosing a favorite from amongst your children. Luckily, in that regard, I have only one!

My Favorite Videos from 2020

To avoid duplication, I will select a short list of my favorite videos that will not appear on either of the lists below. In o particular order:

  1. Measure Twice, Cut Once because I started a new format in the summer – how a well-known quotation applies to us as Project managers. his one has a deeply personal connection.
  2. Influencing Stakeholders: Start at the Bottom because this is a lesson I learned early and have always found important.
  3. The Key Deliverable of Your Project Plan [Not what you expect] because this has come as a revelation to some of our community.
  4. 12 Rules for Project Management because this is a fun topic for me.
  5. Lessons Learned Meeting: How to Make it Excellent because this is the video version of one of my most popular articles (2nd most read this year) – and I never expected the article to be so popular

These are the videos I made this year, that have seen most views and likes. Necessarily, I have ha to make allowances for the fact that a video I released in January has had nearly 12 months to gather views, whilst one I released in early December has had virtually no time.

So, here’s the science… There is none. Don’t think for a moment that Ihave done more than a cursory analysis of the data.

  1. Project Risk Management – How to Manage Project Risk
  2. How to Estimate Project Costs: A Method for Cost Estimation
  3. What is a Monte Carlo Simulation?
  4. How to Build a Great Project Communications Plan
  5. What to Put in Your Risk Register (Risk Log)
  6. COVID-19 – A 7-Step Response Plan for Project Managers
  7. What is Waterfall Project Management?
  8. 4 Types of Project Risk – Different Forms of Uncertainty
  9. What is a Black Swan?
  10. Project Management Lessons from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

These are the videos I made before 2020, but which have been the most popular this year. This is the easiest one to gather.

The first 9 all answer the question ‘What is…

  1. a Gantt Chart?
  2. a Work Breakdown Structure – WBS?
  3. the Critical Path Method (CPM)?
  4. Project Scope?
  5. a PERT Chart?
  6. Stakeholder Management?
  7. Earned Value Management – EVM?
  8. a Business Continuity Plan?
  9. a PMO?
  10. Project Planning: Plan Your Project – PM Fundamentals

Notice how most of them offer simple explanations for common Project Management terms. A lot of these videos appear in our Free Academy of Project Management.

All of them appear (without adverts) in our Project Manager’s Starter Kit and therefore also in Our Project Manager’s Beginner’s Bundle.

Project Manager's Starter Kit
Project Manager's Beginner's Bundle

Look-Back on our Best Project Management Articles of 2020

Once again, I will look at:

  1. Articles I am most proud of, from 2020
  2. The articles that have had most views this year.

My Favourite Articles from 2020

To avoid unnecessary duplication, I will select favorites from among those that got the least attention from you and other members of our community.

  • Please do share your favorites in the comments below.

Here are mine:

  1. PMP or PRINCE2? Unraveling the Knot because I finally got around to asking a question I get asked so often
  2. Answered: Your Burning Questions about the PMBOK Guide’s ITTOs because I put a lot of work into this – despite not liking the way PMI handles this part of our knowledge. Let’s see what happens in PMBOK 7.
  3. A two for one here. My article on Agile Principles makes it into the top 10 most popular articles from 2020. But two others were companion pieces:
    1. Hybrid Project Management: What You Need to Know
    2. What Really is the Waterfall Method?
  4. Grit: Why You Need it and How to Get it because this is such an important personality trait for Project managers
  5. Effective Speaking: How to Speak so People Listen because this one is based on one of my favorites among the 14 print books I’ve written

These are new articles I wrote this year. Because those I wrote at the start of the year have had more time to gather views than, say last week’s article on ISO 21500, I have made some assumptions to get what seems to be a fair list. But this is not scientific.

  1. PMP Exam Changes in January 2021: What will be Different?
  2. COVID-19: A 7-Step Response Plan for Project Managers
  3. 40 TED Talks for Project Managers
  4. PMBOK 7 is getting Closer. What we Know…
  5. Project Management Knowledge Areas: How Many Are There? [Not 10]
  6. Project Document Management: How to Organize and Manage Project Information (This one’s a Guest article, by Malcolm West)
  7. Project Stakeholder Management Knowledge Area: A Guide to Stakeholder Engagement
  8. Agile Principles: The 12 Keys to Adaptive Project Management
  9. How Servant Leadership can Deliver Better Results from Your Project Team
  10. Great Charisma: 7 Secrets of How to be Charismatic

These are articles that do not necessarily originate this year. Some do, but most have been around for a while – or I updated them this year.

My most popular articles this year have been clear. In order of popularity:

  1. PMP Exam Changes in January 2021: What will be Different?
  2. How to Get Your Next Lessons Learned Meeting Right
  3. COVID-19: A 7-Step Response Plan for Project Managers
  4. Project Implementation: Your Guide to What it Involves
  5. How the Stage Gate Process Will Make You a Better Project Manager
  6. The Top 20 Stakeholder Analysis Techniques All PMs Should Know
  7. Scope Management Plan: Everything You Need to Know
  8. APM Body of Knowledge: What is it, Do You Need it?
  9. Project Resource Management: A Comprehensive Guide [Part 1]
  10. Do You Know How to Craft the Perfect Project Name?

A Review of my Most Valuable Lessons Learned in 2020

My Lessons Learned Meeting article is my second most-read article. So, I take that to mean there is a huge appetite for learning lessons among our community. And that is GREAT. It is exactly as it should be. So, let me share the three biggest lessons I have learned this year

Horizon Scanning

Who could have seen it coming?

Well, the answer is that several people did spot Covid-19 coming. These include, most notably, Bill Gates predicting a major pandemic that would have effects much like this one, on the TED stage in 2015. He even suggested that the most likely infectious agent would be a coronavirus.

In one of the most popular videos that I made this year, I describe Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s concept of a Black Swan event. This is an important aspect of risk management. And in that video, I explain why Covid-19 is not a Black Swan event.

But the idea of Black Swans and the event of Covid-19 remind us of the importance of constant Horizon Scanning. Like a meerkat, we need to frequently stand tall on our hind legs and look as far as we can to the horizon – the future. It’s the best chance we have of spotting sudden changes or subtle trends.


Many people have lost their lives to Covid, nature, and political unrest this year. Still more have lost loved ones. And a huge number have seen a serious impact on their livelihoods.

I have not suffered a serious loss. My family have all stayed well. And, while my business has taken a step backward in revenue as my corporate clients have almost all had to stop conferences, training, and personal development commitments, my online business has held up well.

I have much to be grateful for.


One of the things I have been most grateful for has been the growth of the OnlinePMCourses YouTube Channel. I have invested a lot of my time into this, during 2020. And I also invested in a fantastic ongoing program, The New YouTube Academy, from Kevin, the Basic Filmmaker*.

Kevin teaches 21 practical steps that I have tried to implement. But he also teaches two simple messages that resonated strongly with me. They are not clever or original. And they certainly are not appealing if you want quick results. But they gave me confidence in his integrity, because I know that they are vital.

The secrets to success in many areas, like creating a YouTube channel or delivering first-class Project Management must include:

  • Diligence – doing the right things consistently and persistently, through thick and thin
  • Patience – instant results don’t happen overnight! In fact, you can’t expect instant results from any worthwhile and complex endeavor.

This year, I’ve seen my diligence and persistence with my YouTube Channel pay off. And for all of your help in just watching a few of my videos, I thank you for that.

* The link is affiliated, but if you are serious about starting or growing a YouTube channel, then this course will really help you make it work.

About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

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