no time, no learning

I do a fair bit of public speaking. But I doubt that much of it has changed anyone’s behaviour. I may have presented some new ideas and sparked some thinking. With a one-hour lecture, you cannot expect more. Yet a lot of our training programs consist of an expert presenting to ‘learners’. Do we really expect behaviour change from this? That would be rather wishful thinking. Learning is a process, not an event.

‘Setting aside any reservations about what they teach, religious systems have long emphasized what the secular world tends to overlook: if it’s important, it warrants learning repeatedly.

“By contrast,” [Alain] de Botton writes, “modern education adheres to an implicitly bucket-like theory of the mind: one pours in the contents and, bar accidents, they’ll stay there pretty much across a lifetime. That’s why we’ll think nothing of earnestly declaring a book a favourite—and deigning to read it only once.”

Bringing a truth to mind repeatedly gives it an enduring, three-dimensional existence in your head, by reaching you in every mood and every context, in every season, both at times when you’re enthusiastic about it, and when you’re tired of hearing it.’ —Raptitude 2018-01

To learn a skill or get better at one, you have to practice. Deliberate practice with constructive feedback is the key for long-term success. This is how I learned to write. Before I started blogging my writing was quite bad. Even though I had two university degrees, I was not proud of my written work. But through blogging every day and now several times a week, I became a better writer. I also read a lot more and saw how others expressed themselves. I modeled their good practices. Yesterday Heather McGowan wrote that I am, “a gifted communicator who provides clarity with simple images and carefully crafted words.” That made my day. It has taken me over 3,000 blog posts to achieve this clarity.

“You can’t get better at chess just by reading about it. You have to play. Then you have to play in high stress situations (like a tournament).
You can’t get to be the best at business just by reading about Richard Branson.
You have to start a business (or work for a startup or even work for a big business and notice their small successes and failures).
You can’t get to be great at comedy by watching videos. You have to go on stage. Every day.” —James Altucher

The Arts in Perpetual Beta Workshop, Montréal: Photo by @ellacooper

I conduct face-to-face workshops as well as online ones. For my on-site sessions, usually 1/2 or a full day, I try to cover the basics and the key concepts. We do a few exercises to get people thinking differently. But I don’t expect significant changes in performance as a result of one day together. Therefore I encourage participants to stay connected via social media and start narrating their work and learning out loud. I also offer them discounts for my online workshops because these are based on activities spaced over time. The PKM workshop is 60 days and the social learning workshop is 35 days. They work because there is time for discussion and reflection. They are not perfect because quite often participants ask to do them again. This is understandable given the many demands on our time. I let anyone participate again for free, but ask that they be a bit more active 😉

Learning takes time and effort. This is forgotten or ignored in too many organizations. It’s a bit of a joke to ask a speaker for the learning objectives of a one-hour presentation. My objective is to have an influence on at least one member of the audience. That’s about all I can hope for. For real change, it takes a lot of conversations and a fair bit of work. The web is a perfect medium for longer term social learning and taking a journey together.

4 Responses to “no time, no learning”

  1. Claude Philoche

    Following a similar idea, we have started a 6 months learning program about agile leadership alternating 1 day class teaching, 1/2 day of workshops, 1/2 day of personal work, this every month, with an invitation to experiment in between the class and the workshop to share with other participants the learnings.

    • Harold Jarche

      Sounds like a very good approach, Claude. Do you have a place where people can share their thoughts, like an enterprise social network? We did something similar with Carlsberg and their learning leaders program, which spanned a full year with a global audience.

  2. Claude Philoche

    Indeed we have, and it is a good place to share asynchronously with others, even though the depth and breadth of the exchanges could improve in my view.
    We are contemplating with some volonteers to continue this program with a co-dev format between graduates that are happy to share further.


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)