Learning-by-doing often results in people who do not really understand what they are doing. In 2008, we (2sic) developed an internal learning and knowledge-management system to correct this, called 2illumin8. I would like to share that with you for this Christmas.
Analyzing the Problem
Problems with Learning-By-Doing
Professional (in a job/work environment) workers constantly expand their skills on-the-job in a learning-by-doing style. This work style combined with limited time & resources results in severe shortcomings:
- Knowledge is developed inside individuals, not inside a team or organization
- Each individual has a very different skill-level, based on the tasks they had worked on previously
- Learning usually happens at a very execution-oriented level…
- …so individuals usually don’t understand the fundamentals (theory/background) of their work
A System to Turn Professionals into Experts
We all tend to talk about professionals, consultants and experts – often meaning the same concept every time. In reality, there is a very large difference:
- Professionals are workers – that is the definition of the word. They have a profession (job).
- Experts are very knowledgeable about something and/or very skillful.
An organization must put processes and systems in place to continuously empower their professionals to become experts at everything they do. Let’s look at the differences:
|Pros: Task- and Problem-Specific Skills
||Experts: Fundamental & Conceptual Understanding
|It is: Problem specific information / expertise, used to solve a specific, recurring task.
||It Is: The basic theories and concepts, how things work and how they work together. This can be general information like topic history, but most importantly real understanding of how and why things work.
|Example: How to create a FavIcon (tools, limitations, etc.)
||Example: How FavIcons actually work, their history, alternatives, caveats, etc.
|Used for: This is required to solve specific and very often recurring tasks.
- to solve tasks in better ways
- to anticipate problems
- to solve problems not solved before
- to understand other not-directly-related topics
- to solve or build complex systems
|Where to get this: This is the kind of knowledge you can acquire in a learning-by-doing fashion, often by googling a question when you run into a problem.
||Where to get this: Foundational knowledge must be learned at an own effort, either autodidactic (self-educated) or in a structured course. It always requires active effort, as external pressure does not make you do it.
|The 2sic standard: 2sic standardizes this using its knowledge management system (Standards, Checklists, etc.)
||The 2sic standard: 2sic standardizes this with the 2illumin8 training methodology.
The 2illumin8 Learning System
Learning Methodology for Professional Teams
To address this, our company 2sic developed this methodology in 2008 to let teams deepen their understanding of topics and technologies they already use, and to distribute knowledge across all team members. We call this 2illumin8.
Goal of the 2illumin8 Learning System
The primary goal is to turn professionals into experts and increase the productivity and quality of all team members in a systematic way. Moreover, to achieve this within normal working environments.
The 2illumin8 Training Methodology
At the core, 2illumin8 is a lightweight, discussion focused solution. It consists of one or more 1-hour team-sessions for building up knowledge and exchanging experience, all centered on a single topic. For this, we have the following people roles:
- The Education Manager, who regularly determines the next training topics. This Manager then delegates responsibility for that topic.
- The session Leader, who sets the appointment, defines goals and prepares the agenda.
- One or more topic Experts, who have the most experience in the topic. This is often the Leader.
- Topic Users who already have experience using this topic.
- Topic Newbies who are primarily participating to help them get started.
- Topic Outsiders are people for whom the topic is not relevant, because it is not part of their work now or in the near future. These may not attend.
These sessions always have the following properties:
- The Leader prepares the meetings within 1-2 hours. The leader needs a good understanding of the topic, but does not have to be the most experienced person in the team.
- Each session series and each session has a professionally defined goal (this is standard meeting preparation procedure at 2sic).
Example: All participants have a thorough understanding of XYZ in a way that they can apply this to their professional work and become 50% more productive when working with this topic.
- The sessions have a clear agenda, which list the topics to discuss (2sic standard).
- The session consists of discussing each point on the agenda in an open setting, exchanging knowledge and experience about each topic.
- All participants pledge to spend at least 2 hours using new knowledge within 1 week, to ensure that lessons-learned are internalized.
Special Responsibilities of the Session Leader
The Session Leader is crucial for learning success. He/she is responsible for the following:
- Preparation for the 2illumin8 session
- The Leader is responsible for a clear, SMART goal of these sessions, which must contain a written form of how the people become more productive with this new knowledge.
- The Leader is responsible for a written agenda before the meeting, which is stored in a global education-document area – to ensure reusability for future 2illumin8-sessions.
- During the 2illumin8 session
- The Leader moderates the session, keeps track of time and ensure everybody gets to voice their questions and share their knowledge and experience.
- The Leader is responsible for updating the agenda with additional points during the session, so that future sessions will include these as well.
- After the 2illumin8 session
- The Leader must control what the attendees did with their new knowledge, to ensure that attendees keep their promises.
Sample Agenda for a 2illumin8 Session
The following is a slimmed down agenda for a 2illumin8 session. Note that it is brief on purpose, because the quality of the sessions is in the discussions. A brief agenda helps that the Leader does not turn the session into a presentation.
- Topic: Razor Templates
- Goal: All attendees have an expert understanding of Razor templates and how to develop with Razor, so that the quality and style is consistent across the entire team. From now on, all will leverage the newest features and increase productivity by 25%.
- Discuss history and purpose of Razor
- Discuss difference Razor, WebPage, MVC
- Technical Details
- Using Razor in DNN / 2sxc
- Using external code files
- … [lot’s of things would be added here]
- Discuss / Share special experience in projects
As you can see, the preparation is simple. Anybody with a good understanding of the topic can prepare this and moderate a 2illumin8 session.
Limitations of 2illumin8: Topics & Domains, Which Are Suited
The entire concept of 2illumin8 is to make topic-professionals become experts, deepening their understanding of the topic. As such, it is designed for topics, which the team already uses. It is not meant as a training for brand new topics, as that will require more preparation.
Track Record: Tested and Proven
We from 2sic have used this system internally for almost 10 years now, and in a diverse set of topics like:
- Setting goals
- Running meetings
- Angular 4
We can really speak from experience that this format works well for just about any topic you can think about - from management/strategy issues down to detailed technical things.
Extra Gift - our 2illumin8 Word Template
Go ahead, it's free - download the 2illumin8 Template (Word, zipped dotx) and adapt in anyhow you want.
Try it - You'll be amazed
So I hope you could benefit from this. Merry X-Mas and love from Switzerland,