At Emergn, our goal is to improve the way people work. Forever. We help enterprises build better products and services, and change the way they work to make these results a possibility. As part of that, we help people learn how to learn. For an enterprise to become a learning organization, they need to be filled with learners!
Here are our top tips for getting the most out of your VFQ Education (or any other training course you choose to go on!)
What is the big idea you’re working on? Why are you thinking about learning something new? How might you use your learning to make a meaningful impact on your idea or way of working? Frame a question that is bigger than the learning you’re undertaking. This gives you something to hook your new concepts to. If you’re learning a new way of working, make sure you state a goal or something that allows you to test if the new ideas are helping or not. If you’re learning a new programming language, new design skill or learning how to present, think about it in the context of a bigger goal.
Test yourself before learning something new. Test yourself after learning a new concept. Test yourself a few weeks later. Learn something, take notes, ask questions. Get a friend or colleague to test you. If you’re doing a VFQ course, we will provide you with some tests from time-to-time. Not to give you a certificate necessarily. More because if you test yourself with good questions, it opens up the brain to learning new answers down the line. It helps improve your memory and strengthen your ability to retrieve your new found knowledge.
Context is king. What works in one context doesn’t necessarily work in all. Find ways to change your context. Move to new workspaces. Work on a different, sideline project. Try to apply new concepts to a range of problems. Go and observe others. Get distance from your major project from time-to-time. The distance helps create objectivity and allows you to consolidate learning in a less personal way – pressure to apply a new skill in an important project can lead to lack of learning.
All VFQ Programs and Pathways are designed to work over a longer period. They’re designed to create space. Space allows you to forget some stuff between learning sessions, and then remember them again. This is a good thing! It allows you to put things into practice on your own. It’s designed for you to figure out what you didn’t really understand or what you don’t feel comfortable with, and then come back and strengthen your understanding of. Weirdly, if you learn something, forget it and learn it again, you’re more likely to remember it in the future. Remember, forgetting is actually a good thing!
Try to learn a couple of concepts at the same time. Interleave your learning. If you’re trying to learn Scrum, learn Kanban at the same time. If you’re trying to figure out Cost of Delay, learn MoSCoW. At the beginning of each session do a recap of previous sessions. Or look forward to the next session. Try to link this with changing contexts. Figuring out what works best in different contexts is a great form of mixing things up.
Knowing what to do and doing what you know are two different things. Sometimes it’s easiest to do the reading, watch the video or listen to someone talk on a topic. But, engagement is the key to learning. All VFQ courses have activities, exercises and practical tasks to do alone and with your teams. If you do the work, you’ll have stuff to talk about. Take a look at this post on Learning by Doing. It shows you why it’s important and how to get started.
As the saying goes, to really learn something teach it. Even if you don’t want to teach it, share what you’re learning with others. Have a debate. Discuss it. Get different perspectives. Every interaction will allow you to go deeper, further and strengthen your understanding.
Everyone has a different preferred style. You can see what they are here. Consider what your preference is but make sure you get a balance across Kolb’s learning cycle. This framework allows you to best create new knowledge throughout the cycle by mixing up action, reflection, abstract thinking and practical application.
It’s amazing how often we learn the same lessons. It’s normally in different contexts or situations, but we can get great value trying to answer questions we feel we already know the answers to. Maybe re-framing the question or the answer in different ways will help you better learn, adapt or adopt a concept. Every day is a school day. It’s amazing where insights come from, so remain open, remain humble and recognize that there is always something new to learn.