Reset to Zero: Tech & Leadership and Our Learning Odometer

Reset to Zero – Image Source: http://goo.gl/TqN8U

In a recent blog entry, Learning is Vulnerability, at Education ReThink, Quinn Kelly (guest blogger) shares that he is suspicious of 3 things, among them one that I am on guard against:

People who act like they don’t have anything to learn.

Having attended several conferences this past month, I’m shocked to find myself with this feeling of, “I’m familiar with the information shared at technology conferences. In fact, i could have facilitated those sessions.” The truth is, I didn’t want to go through the trouble of doing it and someone had to facilitate them. But as a participant, I have the duty to ask what sessions were more helpful for me than others focused strictly on the apps.

Perhaps, it’s that very knowledge that I’ve gained through many hours of experience and effort, reading and learning from my PLN, that heightens my cynicism, my self-awareness of my perception that I don’t have anything to learn from others.

Well, that’s true. I don’t have anything to learn from folks when they are merely showing me how to use a particular iPad app that I know how to use. I bet you’re in the same boat. After you’ve learned a million different apps, so what if the latest iteration of a video app lets you vjay instead of djay (audio remixing like a djay)? It’s a toy that engages for a moment and is forgotten when the next one arrives.

A Quick Aside: As a parent, I experienced this with both my children, but especially my first. My wife and I spared no expense buying stimulating toys and gifts for my daughter. However, it was only those gifts we–as parents–played with that my daughter wanted. In fact, one of the ways to get infants to do something is to do them yourself. The desire to emulate our significant others is overwhelming, isn’t it? 

Eventually, after watching our daughter play with pots and pans in the kitchen–imitating us during the cooking hour–that we realized we’d spent a lot of money to learn a valuable lesson. Human interactivity, the desire to behave as others we value act…that’s the difference maker.

As Wes Fryer (SpeedofCreativity.org) put it to me as we were watching one presentation, by focusing on apps and web sites that let you do things, “They’ve sort of gone for the low-hanging fruit.” I suspect that the reason why I haven’t blogged as much these days is because of the low-hanging fruit has been picked up.

Where before, it was easy to write a blog entry about how to, now that’s…well, a waste of time. A quick google search and you’ll find videos, illustrated books, articles, blog entries that explain how to ad nauseum.

So if I’m jaded with all the neat new tools, what’s left? If How to isn’t what I write about as a blogger, or as a conference attendee, what’s left? One question might be, what are people whom I admire and value doing? For me, those are folks who are in leadership positions that artfully engage others and facilitate change in their organizations. This is an area of weakness for me, therefore, I am intensely interested in the dynamic of conversations, confrontations, and interacting with others.

For me, this is the work of leaders and why Kelly’s injunction is so problematic. If I don’t accept my role as a learner, even an experienced one that may have to unlearn old concepts so that I may relearn new ones, then there is no possibility of success. Failure is a certainty.

When I encounter team members who send me the message, “I don’t need to learn this,” then I ask, “What is it that you need to learn that would be helpful to the organization?”

When I encounter team members who send me the message, “I don’t have anything to learn,” then I realize I’m dealing with someone who may be beyond help. They are beyond help because they are willfully ignorant of what could best be helpful to them in the context of serving their organization. I suppose, if this was a personal learning need, then they could ignore the help.

Since they are in a work place environment, where their work has to benefit the organization, then it’s too much to expect to be allowed to exhibit the attitude of , “I don’t have anything to learn.”

By constantly learning new technology, I’m always reminded that I have much to learn. In fact, if I alter my area of focus slightly–less technology prowess, more learning–I can be truly humbled by my ignorance.

My poor diagram…in the tech prowess circle, where I’ve spent most of my time, I have a lot of experiences. but how many of those actually apply in the learning sphere? And, if I tried to apply everything in the larger sphere to the smaller one, it would be overwhelming…for myself and others.

Note: By the way, I flunked art in kindergarten. I like to think my stamina for developing quality images is quite low. Took me about 2 minutes to put this one together in Grafio on my iPad, upload it to Dropbox.

What I like about technology is that it resets our learning odometer to zero. Why can’t we accept that others thing we are ignorant about will have the same effect?


Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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