The guest posts continue with this chart topper from Kevin Wyke. Kevin is an OD practioner, coach and proud parent. You can find him somewhere on LinkedIn and here on Twitter.
Kevin takes what can only be described as a ‘High Fidelity’ approach to his best learning experience ever and whilst he still doesn’t land on one he does share some interesting thoughts on how people frame their learning.
So what’s my best learning experience? What a tough question because as soon as I hear the question, in my head I add EVER to the end and that makes it a really big question. What’s my best learning experience EVER? Boy does that ramp up the pressure. And the problem with “Best Ever…” lists is that we have such poor memories, how else can you explain that fact that every “Top 20 tracks of all time” will have 10% from the current year, half from the current decade and all the rest from the Beatles?
I’m only saying all this because I found it hard to come up with my best learning experience, I just couldn’t easily identify one event, one situation, one experience that was IT. What I needed a little bit of a framework to figure out what made a learning experience great for me, I needed my judging criteria to stop me defaulting to the Beatles every time.
So what does it for me?
1.It’s got to be right for right now
For a learning experience to be great for me it needs to be the right thing for me to do right now and by that I mean I either need to know now or I really want to know now. It’s no good sending me on a course that might be relevant in 6 months, I’ll be a god boy and attend if required but will it stick, I don’t think so. Mandatory training teams beware MY motivation plays a big part in the learning hitting home.
2.I need to fail
It needs to be a challenge, it can’t be easy, where’s the fun in learning something easy. To be sure it’s nice to try things that I’m good at but a great learning experience is a challenge. And that means I’ll fail, so it’s important to have space to practice, practice, practice and test myself with a safety net in place and some patient encouragement and feedback to remind me what I’m aiming for and keep me on track.
3.I need to make it real
Great learning experiences are the ones that have made a difference to the way I do things or the way I think about things in the real world not just in the classroom.
And here’s where the light bulb really flicked on, for me, the learning experiences that really are great, that have an impact and make a lasting difference are the ones I have in the real world, where I can take something I have started to learn and put it into practice in a real situation. When I apply the theory and make it stick, when I play with the techniques and hone my skills and when I test out my thoughts and clarify my ideas, that’s when I have really great learning experiences, It doesn’t happen like that in a classroom bubble.
So what makes the cut?
Actually quite a lot, some of the big stuff that we forget we ever learned like walking, talking and riding a bike, all that makes it in and there’s loads of work stuff that starts with a classroom or book or blog and heads to a great learning experience when I take it out to the real world.
It definitely happened the last time I added a new Psychometric to my kitbag (see what I did there). I was very motivated, having loved the experience and insight I had on the receiving end and I was sure I had a place to use it straight away. The theory was fairly detailed, the classroom work challenging, lots of practice and time outside that comfort zone with support, feedback and encouragement from guys with real expertise.
But the great learning experience didn’t really happen for me until I had my first session with a real client. I knew the theory but the pressure of really applying this in the real world, of prepping for a real client, wanting to do a great job for them, that changed something, suddenly I needed to be the expert and didn’t have a safety net. Then there were the questions they did come up with, the ones I didn’t know the answers to immediately that forced me to go away and research and rethink and relearn and finally there was the learning and insight they got themselves, giving me a new perspective and the warm glow you get when you know that you’ve hit the mark, followed by the desire to hit it more cleanly next time.
That was a great learning experience that really changed how I did things, and I’ve learned more every time I’ve used it in the real world since.
Was it my best learning experience ever? Well that’s going to change with the wind isn’t it, and I know there will be some top learning experience choons right around the corner to knock it off it’s perch, so not sure it’s my best but it’s in the top 20…for now, right alongside the Beatles.