November 11, 2013

Chunking & Curating

Whether you read my articles and posts, attend a program I deliver, or engage in executive coaching with me, I have the same goal: that you will have a moment (if not moments) of epiphany as well as validation. In other words, I am working toward your having both an Aha! of great and practical insight, and a self congratulatory, Yup, I am so right in my approach.

Seventeen years ago, I was a Fellow in Leadership NewJersey. It required a monthly overnight commitment, and whenever I went away, my friend Betty would say, “Oh, you’re going to camp for the gifted and talented.” Betty helped me to truly appreciate my participation in the program, and to take the time to reflect on the lessons I was fortunate enough to learn each month. Her words continue to resonate, and I now apply that respect to all of my clients:

If you are investing time with me, I want you to be rewarded.

If you are doing something right, I want you to recognize that, and do more of it.

Last week, for the first time in a long time, I got to be a camper again instead of a counselor. Coming off a year of non-stop work, I attended the Neuroleadership Summit in Washington, DC. Here are some select notes of what I learned:

Josh Davis, Term Assistant Professor of Psychology, Barnard College, Columbia University presented the AGES model for learning, saying that Attention, Generation, Emotion, and Spacing “must all be high for our brain to encode information optimally.Davis said, “We grow our memories. We don’t just put them in a file box. There are structural changes that have to occur. That is why spacing helps in learning.” He also noted that, a little bit of emotion is good for learning. It can be good or bad. There are, however, more benefits to positive emotion: easier collaboration, more creativity, better focus.”

Things must be learned in chunks. This was validating, as it is the adult learning method we use at Thaler Pekar & Partners: introduce the concept, enable participants to explore and work with the concept, facilitate reflection, then move on to a new concept.  As a result of Davis’ session, we will now be asking ourselves, How can we raise attention, generation and emotion in each chunk?

Tony Bingham, CEO of the American Society for Training andDevelopment (ASTD), said that “The majority of learning that occurs within an organization is through social tools, and they are not being dealt with by training leaders! The majority of learning is informal, yet not being optimized.” Bingham said it is time for trainers to “move from Sage on a Stage to more of a curator and facilitator. The analogy that hits home is museum curator: a curator takes what is hidden in the basement and brings it out for all to appreciate. This is what brings about curatorial success.”

Curator was an interesting way to think about the work we do helping smart leaders and organizations find and share stories. We facilitate the uncovering of memories and experiences and we are thoughtful about which ones are shared and in what ways. There are high ethical considerations and standards to our work, and we think deeply about both the person sharing the story and the people who will be reading/watching/listening to the story. Respect for both is paramount.

In summary, I offer this Edmund Burke quote that I saw at the conference: “To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”

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