Monday, March 23, 2015

Six Steps for Learning New Passions

I don't know about you but I find that I really enjoy learning new things and therefor I put myself in situations to do it a lot. Based on that, I have collected a few points from my experiences and placed them carefully in this blog for safe keeping. You may find them interesting to consider both when teaching and when learning new things.
First, watch the passionate and become them... They have put in the time and also their passion can be contagious. If you want to to truly excel at the new activity you need their passion so spend time with them. My advice: Don't try to learn from those that are not excited about what they teach.
Second , break it down into little steps and goals that build into the excellence you seek. You can't come out of the gate playing Beethoven's 5th, first you must play Chopsticks. The small simple steps create the feeling of progress and lessen the overwhelming nature of your end goal.
Third, if you have found the passion, built the little steps and goals into your learning plan then you are ready to apply what Malcom Gladwell calls the "10,000 Hour Rule" in his book Outliers. But... if you did not catch the passion from the passionate then this part can be trying if not insurmountable. Mr Gladwell shares that to truly excel at an item of interest you will need to practice the task for 10,000 hours. Direct application of the learning is key. This is my struggle as there is never quite enough hours in the day for all the application practice that needs to happen.
Fourth, your learning plan needs the element of time. You have to devote and schedule the time so that it becomes part of your daily ritual. If not, the urgent distractions will always displace your new passion especially as you find yourself  in the valley of frustration mentioned in this blog on behavior change through master planning. The learning plan and the master plan are quite similar and the points mentioned there transfer nicely.
Fifth, you have to keep the passionate surrounding you as coaches and mentors. you will face challenges and road blocks and you will need a fresh shot of their channeled enthusiasm and knowledge if you want to get unstuck. Besides most journeys are best with friends.
The sixth item that has helped me to learn new things is simple repetition. I create reminder cards and stickers and put them where I see them everyday. I also use learning aid to keep me fresh on task that I don't do as often. The act of creating this learning aids that shoes the basic steps and details required adds as much value as seeing them repeatedly posted around your world.
In closing I want to again point to the importance of passion in learning. My believe is that education without passion is fake and of limited value.
My hope is that these thoughts help you as you prepare to follow your passion and that you enjoy the journey it provides!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

4 Simple Steps to Start Creating a Learning Culture in Your Organization

Is training a drudgery endured once or twice a year or is it a part of daily life enjoyed by all? Many companies and sites are missing the boat by not having a culture of continuous learning. One where new knowledge is constantly entering the "collective" and finding its way into use. If you can create this culture then you will keep your organization competitive while improving morale according to multiple recently studies.
Here are five easy ways to start your site on a pathway to lifelong education.
1. Trade publications offer a lot of great examples of other organizations success and best practices for no cost other than the time to read. If you are in the manufacturing and asset management world your site should be getting magazines like Plant Engineering, Plant Services, Solutions, Uptime, and others. It is not enough to just sign up for a free subscription. Set up magazine swaps and route around articles that you think are particularly relevant to the site. Have different people present a quick overview of one article per week in your morning meeting. Make the transfer of knowledge an important part of your traditional report out meetings.
2. Websites and blogs like can also supplement your magazine articles. If your organization is more comfortable with online resources than print you can increase your learning with tools like Twitter and LinkedIn as they serve up a lot of great content as well. Be aware however that forwarding a link in an email can sometimes lower the chances it will be consumed by your target audience. After all they did not just receive that email, it came with 38 others. Because of that you may want to share verbally as well as possibly print it in order to get the attention of your group. This really depends on the culture your site has developed.
3. Videos and YouTube are exploding with information, industry specific newscast, and how to videos. If you have not done so just take a look at this search on YouTube for Asset Management. These videos can be used to kick off meetings, they can be looped in break rooms or just sent as a link. There are also videos on demand like the ones we host here that can provide general awareness or a refresher of content right when you need it and when it matters to you most. 
4. Books are the last category and while very old school the classic book club approach can really help the organization grow by holding students accountable to read and then discuss with the group. The discussion really improves retention of the material and understanding. If you can tie the content to something that is happening in the facility, increasing the relevance, then it will be a slam dunk.
I have used all of these in organizations at one time or another and it is pretty exciting to see the organization brighten as it embraces lifelong learning.