Discover more from Mick Liubinskas
What is your learning speed?
Do you learn fast, well and at full affect?
I think your life will be happier and the world better by increasing your speed of learning.
I truly believe we are, generally, significantly better off than at any time in humanity. But it sure ain't easy.
For both people and organisations, staying good at something is hard work. Not staying good is even harder. As an individual, the days of a good education lasting you a lifetime are long gone. For organisations, the constant threat of disruption from all angles is real.
So what do you do about it?
You learn faster, better, always.
Take 3 pieces of paper (A4 or Letter), something to draw with and a timer set to 1 minute.
Start the timer and draw a map of the world on one piece of paper.
When it finishes, immediately start the timer again and draw another map of the world.
When you finish the second map, start the timer again but this time spend one minute looking at the map, think about what you missed, what you got wrong, what you can do differently.
When the timer is up, start it again and draw a third map of the world.
What did you learn from doing this exercise? Take a minute.
What is speed of learning?
Put simply, your speed of learning is the time it takes you to learn something.
The premise is that the faster you can learn the better. If you learn one thing a year, then your speed of learning is 365 days. If you can learn the same thing in six months then your speed of learning is twice as fast.
Importantly, the quality of learning matters. Just going faster will not increase your speed of learning if you don’t actually learn the lesson. That’s just speed, and by itself, it has potential but is still waste.
This was what life was like for me at IBM. Fresh out of university, in a very (very) junior marketing role doing database marketing using AS400 Queries to pull together multiple tables and target IBM’s customers for direct mail. I don’t even think we were doing email marketing at the time, it was all physical mail (yes, that long ago..)
We had so many campaigns to run, so many envelopes to stuff that we were just executing. We actually had constantly overlapping campaigns and even though they did eventually end and there was basic reporting on what the results where we never stopped and said ‘How could we have made it better?’ No time. Just keep going. It was the epitome of “I can’t take time to sharpen this saw, I’ve got too many trees to cut down.”
Speed of Learning Options
So there are four basic modes of Speed of Learning shown in the table below. As always, the top right box is the strongest option in the current VUCA world.
Slow, no learning: Very painful, what careers used to look like, and what big companies used to behave like.
Fast, no learning: Wasteful, chaotic. Just moving on to the next project and executing without making improvements.
Slow, with learning: Progress, but slow. Probably too slow for the VUCA world today.
Fast, with learning: A fast rate of quality learning. Getting in front and staying there.
So what is VUCA and what has it got to do with Speed of Learning.
VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. If it sounds like a mouthful, it is. If it also sounds like your life, both personal and professional, then you’re not alone.
Volatile: All things change, all the time, in all kind of ways. If you don’t keep learning, your skills will become less relevant and less valuable.
Uncertain: It is very difficult to regularly and accurately predict what will happen in the future, even in the short term but especially in the long term. The skill you are learning may not be the one that is needed in the future. You may need to learn more or something completely different.
Complex: Nothing is simple. Most industries, products, services, organizations require complex, multi-level, multi-function, multi-country systems to operate. The skills you learn are going to be harder to master and will exist in a matrix that will make executing harder. Plus, you need to learn soft skills too, as you will most likely have to interact with a lot of different and changing people, roles, companies.
Ambiguous: Things are unclear. Markets, people, and even data are often not what they look like or have multiple meanings. What you are learning, how you learn it, and how you apply it will require deeper understanding and regular review. Short, one-off courses of rote learning will not be enough.
Give me feedback?
Help me learn… ;-)