Archive for April, 2008

Uploaded by markal

32.     Ask How Not Just What

Most people go to experts to find out what they know.  Companies look at top performers to see what they do that’s different than average performers.  This is good and useful information.  However, the key question that most fail to ask is “How did you learn that?”  For example, there is a big difference in the questions, “What do you do to get in to see a high level decision maker” versus “How did you learn to get in to see these decision makers?”  What you find in the answers are the key experiences and critical events that made the difference.  You also see the mistakes that can be avoided by someone new.


33.     Find a Buddy

Buddies are different than mentors.  A buddy is someone who is going through the same learning experience you are and who wants you to succeed.  Sharing experiences and teaching each other helps both you and your buddy learn faster.  You just have to check what you’re doing with your mentor so you aren’t just sharing bad habits.


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I’ve been on the road so much I haven’t been able to keep up.

Here are some more fast ideas.

28.     Reduce Variability

Reducing variability is a key element along with reducing the time of any quality improvement effort.  This really comes into play in larger organizations and school systems which tend to have a very high degree of variability.  For example, in a Fortune 1000 company it’s very likely that every division has a different basic sales training course.  In fact, they will have multiple instructors teaching the course their own way. 

In a school system, something like 4th grade history is different in every school and even between teachers in the same school.  As a result, there is little or no sharing of best practices and most students can’t get the very best because the best can only teach so many students.  Training and education will get better and faster as hundreds and even thousands of different processes are limited to a smaller number that can be worked on and improved.

29.     Make a List of Everything

Actually this list of ideas is a good example.  As an expert you might know everything on this list but if you were to tell it to someone else, it’s likely you would miss a few things.  That’s what often happens in teaching a job or task.  You can do a great job of teaching everything you remember but miss a few things.  That five or ten percent often is critical in reaching proficiency.  A good list in a lot of environments is a list of everything that can go wrong and what to do about it.  A good place for the list is on a Wiki.

30.     Become a Speed Researcher

While speed reading and working on memory techniques are great, a third part of the equation is to become a faster researcher.  The first thing to do to become a speed research is to learn how to use online search engines.  In most cases, this just takes practice and a willingness to try out all the different search functions.  The second thing is to search out and bookmark important sites that tend to have the knowledge you seek.  Asking others for great sites is part of this search.  To help others this involves creating Wikis and online help that’s easy to use, up-to-date and complete.  A good knowledge management system is crucial.

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24. Don’t Talk So Much

Often, the more your talk the less learning is happening.  Others often have to say the words to learn something and they can’t do that when you’re talking

25. Add a Little Music

All the research shows that music improves verbal memory.  This means adding music to education but also studying and playing music. 

26. Build a Wiki

As you start any new job or new learning environment, you are bombarded with new words and acronyms.  Sometimes you’ll find a written glossary or list of terms but it’s usually out-of-date and hard to find.  Terms and acronyms are easy to load to a Wiki which is like an online encyclopedia.  The advantage of a Wiki is that it’s easy to update and everyone has access to add or modify information rather than waiting for periodic updating. 

27. Don’t Forget Memory Techniques

Most people remember things through repetition.  There are dozens of other techniques that speed up the memory process by linking and rearranging things to make them easier to remember.  For example, it’s easier to remember the words to a song than a poem. 

Putting words to music is just one memory technique.  In building courses, a lot of the time you can build in information delivery in a way that’s easier to remember.  Often a model or map can be used to organize information in a way that helps visual learners.

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