Remember when you first learned to bake cookies? How about when your dad showed you how to use a hand saw? I’m confident you didn’t learn those lessons by reading a book or having you sit in a classroom. You learned them – and always remembered them – because you got to see how to do it in the real world. You got to apply what you learned right way.
We learn best by interacting and doing. When you learned to saw lumber for building a bird cage, your mom or dad held your hand on the saw to help you learn how to cut the lumber for the bird house. When your parent removed their hand from the saw and let you do it yourself, you might have stumbled a bit but someone was there to help you through it. It was a learning experience you never forgot and every time you saw a piece of lumber you remember what it felt like.
Learning Business Analysis typically doesn’t work that way. You get lots of lecture and theory and maybe a few practice examples to work from but none of it’s real world and hands on. At Bob the BA we looked back on the best lessons we learned – yeah even those from childhood – and realized that we need to think DIFFERENTLY about business analysis and project management training.
Having a positive hands on experiential learning experience produces better results. What you learn you can apply right away. This stuff is ancient. In 350 BCE Aristotle was sitting in the Greek countryside talking about it. Even today experts like David Kolb (1970), Patrick Felicia (2011), Colin Beard (2010), and Mary Breunig (2009) are talking about it. So why do we think we learn best by lectures and manuals?
Think about how you would like to learn. Let’s say you want to learn more about the animals in the zoo. Do you think you would learn more by reading a book on the subject or by interacting with a vet at the local zoo that can walk you through the animal cages and talk about their knowledge and experiences of the zoo animals? I learned more about how a dolphin sleeps and plays by getting splashed on at the zoo then I ever did by reading a book. I learned more in the “here and now”.
That’s great but isn’t business analysis too complicated to learn this way? Absolutely not. Even a surgeon learns brain surgery by experimental learning. Obviously they didn’t just walk in the room and start brain surgery. They started by observing the professor or instructor and then participating in a safe environment for them and the patient. At Bob the BA we create a safe environment for business analysts to learn and try out new techniques and tools. Safe to practice and safe to learn.
To learn effectively this way we need must be willing to “put ourselves out there” and participate in the training. That takes having an environment that is open and safe to experiment and learn. Get your hands dirty and work with the technique or tool. Work through it a few times to make sure you understand it. Then give yourself some time to reflect on what you learned. How would you apply it to other situations or projects? If you tried it in the past, why didn’t it work?
Let’s learn differently.