By John Hunter, author of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog (since 2004).
Eric Budd’s presentation, Is There Hope…?, at our 2015 annual conference.
In Eric’s presentation he frequently asked the attendees to think and discuss or write down their ideas related to the ideas he was presenting. It is very valuable to have those listening (in a learning environment) think about what they are learning and write down their thoughts, questions or conclusions. This process engages people and deepens the learning they achieve.
Often, when listening passively we passively accept what is being said. But without taking time (even just a couple of minutes) thinking about the new ideas and how they relate to you and the issues you face, it is very easy to walk away without actually absorbing what was said. As a presenter, providing space to think, reflect and actively express those thoughts (by writing them down or sharing them with someone else) is a very useful strategy to improve how much people take away from a presentation.
Having them both write down thoughts and discuss them with a partner, or in a small group, is useful. Some people will find one much more useful, others will find the other option more useful (or comfortable) but both are useful and re-enforce each other. Having people write down their thoughts and conclusions is very useful and is very under-utilized by presenters in my experience.
When we designed the Deming 2 1/2 day seminar we placed great importance on these principles and incorporated them into the Deming 2 1/2 day seminars. We continue to practice these principles in our seminars (the next seminar is scheduled for February in Ohio).
These strategies are good in general and even more important for adult learners (I suspect more because adults are just less willing to try to learn as best they can when the methods used don’t fully engage them). One thing you can do as a learner is to apply these strategies yourself, even if the presentation doesn’t incorporate them. Think about the points being made and how they apply to issues you face. And write down some questions you have or conclusions you reach.
I liked Eric’s discussion of prediction and memory (around minute 46), including:
So you make a prediction, if don’t write it down, an event happens, you come back and look at the results, frequently it is very easy to say – “oh, I knew that.” Because now you know all the things that happened in between your brain is formulating, “I must have been thinking that, I wouldn’t have been that uniformed” [to not have predicted that]. An opportunity to learn requires some version of documentation of what we were predicting.
I have written about the importance and value of prediction on my Curious Cat blog several times, including: Management is Prediction (2005), Write it Down (2007), Predicting Improves Learning (2007).
Related: Outdated Management Practices Don’t Die Off Easily – Deming 101: Kelly Allan’s Presentation at Our 2014 Annual Conference – Deming 101: Understanding Systems by Ian Bradbury (2013)