Lessons on Learning LO9935

Fri, 13 Sep 1996 07:26:25 -0400

Replying to LO9892 -- was Intro -- Gayatri Krishnamurthy

Thanks for the heartwarming story of your learning to swim and the
breakthrough you had. It reminded me of an experiment in a client company
of mine with approximately 100 people. The company was challenged to
learn to juggle within three months. The standards were to juggle in the
cascade form at least thirty seconds with three balls without dropping any
of them.

The reaction from the group was fascinating. Some were higly offended,
some were challenged and enthusiastic, some already knew how so they were
asked to create a new learning challenge for themselves relative to their
competency, some were afraid, others confused. Over time, the reactions
got stronger. Some people considered quitting their job! Others got
together after work and practiced together. As part of the experiment, we
raised the awareness of the collective learning process. Those who were
successful had similar experiences. Lessons included:

1) Part of the learning process is listening to the internal converation
about learning and shifting those to a conducive mood to learn.
2) Get help! Those who drew on resources such as fellow jugglers or a
video tape on juggling that was made available learned to juggle more
easily than those who did not.
3) Create a feedback mechanism to keep the progress visible.
4) Create a structure for practiciing - space and time
5) Support each other - many people decided to take this on as an
individual challenge rather than a team challenge, even though they work
in teams - interesting insight on the power of mental models. When they
realized this midway through, they created learning teams and there was
considerable progress very quickly.
6) Persistence - the learning teams made a big jump in progress with the
energy and focus, but is wasn't sustained in many of the teams and the
only way to learn is persistence. The mood of the teams who had a big
rise in energy only to be let down at the lack of continuing together
actually got worse than before the burst. They had a taste of what it
could be working together and when that dissipated, they got resentful.
7) What was interesting to me was the lack of being proactive, those with
the bad moods were waiting for someone else to come support them rather
than taking the initiative to get the team together.
8) Time seemed the biggest barrier, everyone complained they were too
busy to take the time.

The lessons go on and on....but in the end, approximately 90% of the
people learned to juggle, many had big breakthroughs about learning to

I'd love to hear other stories/lessons from the group on learning.

Margaret McIntyre



Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>