Creating a Culture of Learning
Training doesn’t work! That is the axiom that many people have lived by for years. The reason is that training is the magic wand that one waves in the air and suddenly everybody comes back changed. But, as we all know, it never really works that way. You can almost hear the manager say, “Hey, I sent you to that class to make you smarter and you are coming back dumber. At least go back to what you used to be. I can deal with that.” It reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon I cut out a long time ago. Dilbert is shown in the office holding a binder when his boss asks him “Well, how did that training event go?” Dilbert then answers ruefully, “Great, now I have another binder that will sit above my desk and collect dust.” In the final panel, Dilbert’s co-worker asks him if he was able to secure funding for the project they were working on. “Yes,” says Dilbert. “I think I got it out of the training budget.”
The Four Levels of Learning
Ever notice a child learning to walk? They start by crawling and can get around fairly well. However, they notice other people walking and start to stand up, take a few steps and fall down. Crawling is a much faster way to go. However, a parent or adult will hold the child by the hand and support them while they take a few steps. Then they will let go of the hand and allow the child to take a few steps toward them, encouraging them with praise in their efforts. Even though there performance has decreased (it is faster at this point to crawl then to walk), with support, encouragement and guidance they continue applying what they have learned until they are able to walk more quickly than they crawl and eventually stop thinking about it altogether because walking is a natural motion for them now.
It is something we have all done and how we, as human beings, learn. There are four levels of learning and, try as we might, we cannot escape them. Everything we learn goes through these four levels. The four levels are:
- Unconsciously unskilled – we don’t know what we don’t know!
- Consciously unskilled – we now realize that we have to learn something.
- Consciously skilled – we have learned it and are trying to apply it. It seems difficult and unnatural but we continue anyway.
- Unconsciously skilled – we have done it so much it is now second nature to us and we don’t even think about it anymore.
Here is how the four levels of learning affect performance:
As you can see from the above-noted chart, learning (at least in the short-term) actually DECREASES performance. It is only after applying it for an extended period of time that performance increases significantly.
Lesson learned: You cannot rush learning. IT TAKES TIME TO INCORPORATE. There are no quick fixes or short-cuts you can do.