Three Ways People Learn – Creating Meaningful Learning Experiences (Part I)

Owners, builders, and architects alike continue to face common challenges positioning technology in their day-to-day workflows. Recently, we engaged with an architecture firm who had robust training materials, well-defined standards and templates, and a robust centralized content management system to beat.

Even with these investments, the group reported to us that many of their teams still favored recycling content from project-to-project, insisted on their per-team standards, and frequently claimed they didn’t have time to watch training videos aimed at squashing these habits. This describes something we see often: a lack of commitment to learn and apply some well thought-out technologies and processes. But what would cause this?

To respond to these challenges, we sought out to understand how people learn. To illustrate this, we turned to The One Thing You Need to Know…About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success by Marcus Buckingham. Here, three major learning styles are identified: analyzers, doers, and watchers.

An analyzer learns before action

An analyzer is someone who craves information and seeks a required amount of it for their own understanding before trying something new.

They “understand a task by taking it apart, examining its elements, and reconstructing it piece by piece.” An analyzer is someone who craves information and seeks a required amount of it for their own understanding before trying something new. These individuals enjoy a classroom setting and will evolve their understanding of a task by imagining how something will play out through role playing. An important consideration for analyzers is that they do not want to make mistakes and will never “wing it.”

A doer learns during action

A doer will cherish their mistakes as they see them as a needed for learning.

“…The absolute best way to teach a doer is to throw [them] in the middle of a new situation and tell [them] to wing it.” A doer will cherish their mistakes as they see them as a needed for learning. Doers want to know the outcome of a process and will make attempts at solving it on their own. A great way to challenge doers in their self-learning adventures is to gradually increase the complexity of the outcomes incrementally to avoid initial overwhelm of a new situation. Don’t be offended if a doer ignores your advice – sometimes they need to experience the solution themselves before they believe your input.

Combining doers and analyzers on a team can cause conflict due to the obvious character traits that are in direct opposition to each other. Analyzers will be a challenge to doers because an analyzer will request requisite data before action when a doer expects to collect that data through action. Doers wil challenge analyzers because a doer’s desire to make mistakes and learn through action is seen as dangerous to analyzers. Just be aware of these situations and communicate with each other when things feel tense. In many cases, the next step is action.

A watcher observes then mimics

Watchers need to see someone qualified complete a task to perfection

“Watchers can learn a great deal, but only when they are given the chance to see the total performance. […] For them what’s important is the context of each pixel, its position relative to all the others, and when they can see this, they can “get” it, only when they view the completed picture.” Watchers need to see someone qualified complete a task to perfection. They will mimic what has been observed and eventually take action by copying. Once they have copied enough, they will find their path and begin to embellish and apply their unique strengths to a process.

Partner a watcher with an experienced performer for some dedicated observation time. It’s worth pointing out that watchers are often seen as “poor learners” because a classroom setting and access to manuals is largely ineffective. Give a watcher what they need and appreciate that they do not take action until they have observed an expert complete a task or solve a problem.

More to come…

Helpful hint: these learning styles also apply when problem solving. Additionally, individuals will have a primary and secondary method of learning, and some utilize all three.

Thinking back to our firm who couldn’t quite move the needle using their video-based cloud learning platform, we challenged the notion that this would work for everyone. Based on these three types of learning and problem solving styles, we proposed new methods of skills uplift in addition to access to a video library and dedicated training time.

More on that in the next installment!

What type of learner/problem solver are you? How does your firm implement new technology and processes that address individuals’ learning needs? Tweet us @ProvingGroundIO