How do you learn?

Some time ago I was asked that question on the Linkedin forum and this is what I answered.

1. Learning Tension between ‘what is’ and ‘what should be’. I need a necessity – something that is waiting, burning, urgent, important and that is not yet a reality.

2. Time-to-Task
I learn better when the purpose of my learning is near in time. Reading a user’s manual one day before using computer program is probably much better than one month before. However, reading that same manual after struggling around for one day with the computer program will make me absorb even more useful knowledge (i.e. the time-to-task is negative).

3. Play
The moments when I experience a learning kick are the ones when all of a sudden I can make free association between formerly independent things, relating them to one another and then creating someting new (anthropologists call this ‘bricolage’). I think this is the experience of creativity.

4. There are three kinds of learning content
They all build on each other and all three of them should be present for me to ‘really get it’. They are:
– Know-how => instructions and things to DO
– Know-what => context and things to KNOW
– Know-why => motivation and OWNERSHIP

I blogged about the latter point previously and you will also find quite some related stuff in the Change Management Cooking Class slides that I recently published (click on Luc’s slides).