Three magic words appear in nearly every job description: “excellent communication skills.”
How can we continuously improve our communication, collaboration and consulting skills? Conventional training may have some effect, but ongoing development of these capabilities requires a conscious strategy for learning by design.
Active (or social) learning is based on research regarding how busy people actually change behaviour. Approximately 80% of what we need to know in order to do our jobs is gained through daily work activities and interactions. Yet this valuable learning is typically left to chance (passive learning) rather than leveraged through an intentional approach.
What is active learning?
Active learning is a group coaching method that draws learning principles from real life situations. It helps people learn how to learn in the moment as an essential business skill. Rather than “push teaching” it is a question-based “pull learning” approach that nurtures a learning culture of continuous improvement.
How does active learning work?
Active learning feeds our natural curiosity. It’s the opposite of passive learning. Following an introduction to the method and initial group practice coaching, it becomes an integrated aspect of working life, rather than something extra to do.
My role is to introduce this approach and provide initial guidance in launching the initiative. I can also “coach the coaches” so that this mindset lives on as new members join your firm.
What are the benefits?
Active learning improves complex communication skills that require judgment, empathy and emotions. It turns unhealthy conflict into healthy engagement.If you are in the business of selling advice, you are providing more than knowledge and technical expertise. The quality of your diagnostic and interactive skills affects your value. Active learning improves consulting relationships, while also offering these benefits:
What are consequences of NOT doing active learning?
Cost of hours wasted by solving preventable problems
Cost of know-how that’s not shared
Cost of demotivated workers
Cost of avoiding difficult discussions
Cost of missed opportunities and major blind spots
Cost of wasted energy in a culture of blame and defensiveness
My range of services: - Collaboratively define the focus and purpose of your active learning program - Introduce a Learning Plan for human-to-human skills improvement - Facilitate 3-5 introductory active learning group sessions - Provide "coach the coach" advice so that the method is sustainable - Measure the results of your active learning initiative - Provide tune-up coaching as required
I’ve delivered over 300 active learning workshops and programs to professional services firms, large and small commercial businesses and non-profit organizations.
Here is a 20-slide summary of how I combine active learning with design thinking:
Here I am explaining how active learning improves collaboration skills at the Ontario Association of Architects 2016 Conference.