After a great workshop or other learning experience, we often “see the light” and are energized to use the new insights. So why is it often only a week or a couple of months we have trouble remembering what we learned? I know that I can learn to use a special program for a project and do fairly well even if it is new and slow. When I go back six months later I have to learn things over again. If I do this iteration multiple times … eventually most of it “sticks” to my brain.
It turns out we are better off if we learn, forget, and re-learn. Our natural way to learn is to do something, later make a mistake because we forgot part of what we learned and we need to learn it again. Recent research has shown that is the best way to learn.
Annie Murphy Paul, author of “The Science of How We Get Smarter” notes that boot camps give the false sense of mastery and is actually easier than real learning. Spending 40 hours over three months is a better way to learn than a concentrated 40 hour week on a topic, according to Nate Kornell, professor of psychology at Williams College; as long as a similar intense effort is expended in both cases. An application discussion was in the New York Times personal business section June 28th, 2014.
At Change Masters® we have found a clear result from a concentrated learning with followed-up learning is the most effective. We use an intense learning experience followed by what we call “drip learning™” following the intense learning process. Those that use the additional learning and use the skills over a one year period show meaningful and long-lasting changes.
Another way to solidify learning experiences is to immediately apply the new learning on the job (OJT) over time until it is habit. This is just as true of leadership skills as it is for physical skills. In sports, we would not expect to go to a class and know how to shoot par at golf or kick a ball into the net.