Understanding the Learner
It surprises me sometimes how much writing these forces me to confront what I don’t know. Unbeknownst to Matt, he sent me for a loop with his New Year’s Resolution post about not reading any Lean books in 2012. I have known Matt for almost 10 years and worked directly with him for close to 5, literally sitting right next to him for 3 of those years. With all of that, I came to understand more about how he learned in 3 paragraphs than I knew in the previous decade. Matt wasn’t downplaying the quality of Lean books or reading in general. He was just acknowledging that he learns best by practice and experience as opposed to internally processing theory. Personally, I’m pretty much the opposite.
I consider a big part of what I do and who I am as a person is being a teacher. That applies for me not only in formal training activities, but through most of my personal interactions including working with my son’s basketball team. Fortunately, being involved with Lean and problem solving allows me some great opportunities to do something I love to do. I put a lot of effort in trying to focus, tailor, or even re-package the information I’m trying to deliver to get the best impact. What I’m not so sure about is that I’ve really thought about the best way for people to utilize what I’m delivering. I thought I was doing that, but now I’m seriously reflecting on how well I’m helping people close the gap between understanding and executing.
Matt’s plan for himself has indirectly given me a new challenge for 2012. My challenge is to be much more intentional in understanding not only the impact of the message itself, but how people can get the most out of what they may be learning. I could also take it a step further and try to figure out better ways to communicate with people teaching me so that I can become a better learner. I can’t seem to recall the exact origin, but I’ve heard over and over the adage that “if the learner hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught.” Now my eyes are a little more open to seeing that learning has at much to do with executing as it does understanding.