The Learning Loop
Updated: Mar 28, 2019
I’m one of those people who absolutely loves his job.
I wake up every morning knowing that I get to help people and businesses become better. More than anything else, I love it when people have “Aha moments”. You can see it in their face every time. Concepts suddenly click. A missing puzzle piece is found. Ambiguity becomes tangible, and the fuzzy becomes clear. It’s those light bulb moments when the complex becomes simple.
Making things simple is often quite hard. Life can be noisy. We’re bombarded with information. We move from task-to-task and project-to-project, without taking the time to reflect on what’s working and not working. Often, we simply lose sight of where we are at any given moment, which limits our ability to be productive. Getting stuck in the weeds and caught in a cycle of “busy-ness” is very common.
One of the most effective ways to break this cycle is to utilize frameworks. Frameworks are basically a blueprint that help people quickly understand and adopt new concepts. They also allow people to name the issue(s) they face, which then gives them a common language to operate from. Finally, frameworks give people a clearer perspective of where they are in a given process, which is immensely valuable in itself.
If there was ever a “secret” to good coaching or consulting, it’s helping people to gain a fresh perspective, and to simplify the complexity in their lives.
As an Organizational Development consultant, my ultimate goal is to help businesses evolve into “Learning Organizations.” In my world, this is the pièce de résistance! Learning organizations utilize frameworks to continually leverage insights, adapt, and improve. At Better Faster Further, we’ve spent a great deal of time developing, testing, and implementing our Learning Loop framework within a myriad of client systems, and have had phenomenal results.
The Learning Loop contains 5 key components:
Awareness — Everything starts with awareness. We can only make decisions based on what we know (and what we know that we don’t know…) at any given moment. This is why asking questions, getting feedback, and remaining curious about yourself and others is so important. Awareness is the bedrock of everything we do.
Decision Making — Awareness drives decision-making. Once we know what we know, we can then make decisions based on the information at hand. Making decisions can be challenging at times. Sometimes there’s no clear “right answer,” and often we have limited information and tight timelines making it even more complex and dynamic. Making decisions is a mission critical step in the process to help move people and projects forward. That said, making decisions doesn’t mean much until you actually put those decisions into action.
Actions— If you only make decisions, but never put them into action, then they simply become a plaque on the wall. Think about most people’s New Year’s resolutions. They decide they want to lose that extra 10 pounds and to start going to the gym…again, but never really put things into action. Thus, their goal is never realized and simply dies on the vine. Being able to turn decision making (i.e. goals) into actions is a critical component of running a successful business.
Results/Outcomes — Thanks to the laws of physics, we know that for every action there is a reaction. Once you turn a decision into action, there will be some sort of reaction, result, or outcome. The result(s) might be different than what you expected, but it’s a result nonetheless. Things happen. Progress is made. Failures occur. This is the joy and pain of business.
Reflection — This is the step that gets overlooked by most people (and companies), and it’s where the true learning comes from. Most teams and organizations are so busy moving between tasks and project, that they forget to zoom out and reflect. Sadly, very few take the time to pause and learn from the process they just went through. The answers to the questions below are very powerful. They drive new insights and increase awareness, thus starting the Learning Loop all over again.
The Learning Loop is an effective framework because it supports the kind of thinking and behavior required to become a learning organization. The key takeaway is that there are nuggets of gold and important lessons that can only be discovered upon reflection. Take advantage of these moments!