“Learning is an active process. We learn by doing… Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind”. ~ Dale Carnegie
What most of us actually do when we want to learn something is, we get a book and read about it, or look at some You Tube Videos to see how it’s done. We might even take a course. Say you were interested in learning about strategy. You hear the executives in your organization talking about it and you want to learn more. So, you go to your local book store (or Amazon) and get a couple of books on strategy. You might even ask for permission to take a course on strategy. Your local University has a two-day program for only $695.00. The result of all of this is you start to understand what strategy is and what strategic plans look like.
The last thing we normally do is to plan on-the-job assignments to learn. In the strategy example, you could ask to be a part of the strategic planning team. Over the course of a year, you gather information for a SWOT analysis report, and complete a competitive analysis to share with the strategy team. These are specific assignments that will help you learn how to do strategy, not just understand it. The key part is linking ordinary work to specific development goals.
Your culture needs to encourage failure if you are to learn
Research has shown that we should:
Focus on developing ‘in place’ with on-the-job assignments and projects for primary development. Use readings, workshops, and other forms of learning for introductions or supplementary development.
Think Pareto– the 80/20 Rule
About 20% of development occurs through courses/books/models. And, 80% of development occurs on the job. Practicing skills, implementing what you’ve learned at work. Learning by doing.
Why is it important to get your hands dirty now and then? ‘Made in Japan’ used to be a joke… no more. Japanese car engineers have dirty hands at then end of the day, most American car engineers don’t. The difference? The Japanese engineers live by the gimba … go see. They work on the engines directly, they get their hands dirty. They truly understand how parts work. If you want to build company, start doing it, don’t just buy a book about it.