A Little Known Fact Which Blows Up Your View of Learning

Over the weekend it was great catching up with some friends I had known since my university days. Many topics of conversation came up including what films have you watched recently and who was in them. You get the picture. Some of the facts about the film or past events were hard for me to recall. Do you ever have the same problem? Forgetting things is something that I believe affects us all. There is a high value on learning in our culture and rightly so. What I have discovered though is how quickly we lose new learning, and it is quite shocking.

According to HBR, in 2016 organisations spent $359 billion globally on training. It is good to see money being spent on training people. The question has to be: was it money well spent?

As you think about those you lead, it is important that your teams are resourced to do their jobs. It is also important to have an effective learning and development process.

“As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can’t remember the other two.” Norman Wisdom

New learning can dissipate much faster than you realise. In the late 19th Century, Hermann Ebbinghaus pioneered experimental studies into memory. His discovery was the “Forgetting Curve.” This graph shows how quickly you can forget new learning. Surprisingly after just six days, if new information is not applied, you will have forgotten 75% of the learning.

As a coach and trainer, I want to help you retain the new learning – after all the point of it is to have positive impact on the growth and development of people and ultimately the organisation.

4 Tips to Help Retain New Learning

Ebbinghaus discovered there are ways to reduce the amount being forgotten. Some of which are covered here:

1. Repetition – repetition of the learning – reviewing it – will reinforce the training you have had. It should be something that is done with regular spacing so you build and reinforce the learning. Build on the initial training and this reduces the forgetting effect. Relearning is easier. Learning less and spreading the content over a greater length of time reduces information loss.

2. Clarity – any training or learning that goes on should be as clear as possible. Generations now coming into the workplace are more attuned to visualisations. Make the information easy to absorb. Think of ways you can present the content in different ways. Interacting with the information using smaller groups to discuss things reinforces the learning.

3. Relevant – the information being presented should be relevant; something that those learning can connect to. There should be meaning for the learning. When the learner connects to the ‘why is this being done’ then learning and retention is improved. Ideally there should be real life situations which the learning can be applied to at the time. The application will mean the information sticks and can be implemented. The more real world applications there are to the learning the greater the retention of the information.

4. Interactive – practical use of the information and being interactive in the learning associates actions with the information. Interactions could be peer group exercises or quizzes and assessments around the learning.

You invest in training and development to grow and be more effective. As can be seen above, there are ways of achieving this to greater effect.

At Smart Culture we train using a combination of workshops and coaching so the learning happens in different contexts. To discuss how this can improve the development of your teams and organisations contact me at mark@smartculture.uk

To your success.

Photo courtesy of Sander Sammy on unsplash.

Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

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