Discovery and action are the key for any learning, and so much more effective than watching for learning. The same applies with change – change requires learning, and learning requires activity.
People learn better when they are directly involved in their own learning, not just sitting back and (barely) listening to others, being lectured or passively viewing PP-presentations. Still it is very common that trainings and development programmes focus mainly on experts talking and participants listening passively. When employees get used to this kind of trainings, they don’t even know to expect anything else. But once having tried a more active way of learning, they also prefer activity and doing themselves ahead of passive listening.
Engagement and discovery
A world leading expert in the field of leadership can prove any theory or practice to be the most powerful way to change and learn, but unless people themselves don’t do the activity required for change, and engage themselves and their teams, the expert fee has gone to waste. You don’t develop by hearing or by thinking “this is great”. You need to act, you need to take the learnings into practise.
Kids learn by discovering and doing, athletes learn by practising and doing. And adults learn by being active themselves, and doing. But too often it seems we forget this.
If we have the luxury to have a training with face-to-face meetings, we shouldn’t put that time into lecturing. Because when we get back to our workplaces, after a few weeks of excitement we’re falling back to old habits, although we “know” better. By discovery and engagement we learn, and by forcing ourselves (with the help of others) to real action, to trying out new ways, we can feel the same excitement that small kids feel when discovering and learning new. We should give ourselves the opportunity for the aha-moments. Those are the ones we learn from and they help us to change (and the lectures can always be recorded…). We need to talk about what we’re experiencing and discovering, reflect on it, and apply the learnings and insights into our own work.
When being engaged and involved through active learning, people also take more responsibility for their own learning and development. Changing requires learning and learning requires activity. Learning is not a spectator sport.