Natural Learning – a new approach

Rajeev Roy - Nathural learning new approachI shared the new challenge organisations are facing to accelerate growth, followed by the Monday Syndrome related to behavioural training, and finally the flaws with the current approach used for such training. Now, let us look at a fresh approach to learning. An approach that is very simple, very intuitive, almost hiding in plain sight. It was a revelation for me when I saw it for the first time.

Let me step back a bit before I get into it – to revisit the challenge of behavioural training. When we put people through a program intended to cause a behavioural change, it is seldom that they do not realise the need and benefits of changing their behaviour. In fact, their behaviour may also alter for the moment and continue to be in an altered state for a few days. Then, it all goes back to how it was before. So, the challenge is not to have people see they need a behavioural change, the challenge is how to have that change be permanent, become a part of who they are.

So, where do we look to find a new approach to learning? An approach that leaves us with whatever we have learnt as part of us, as part of who we are? We never forgetting what we learnt or better still – we never even realising we learnt something new but it always remaining with us? When and where have we experienced this in our lives?

Go back to when we were born. What did we know at that time? What skills did we have? What behaviours did we have? None, except maybe to cry. Than we started learning, one by one. We learnt language, emotions, meanings, interpretations, and behaviours. We also learnt how to talk, walk, run etc. Were we ever aware that we are learning these things? Did we ever forget what we learnt? Isn’t this the kind of learning we are looking for? This is what I call “Natural Learning”.

“Natural Learning” is the way nature designed learning, the way we learn as a child, a way which is natural for us. Observe the way a child learns to walk. Here’s a child surrounded by people who somehow magically move from one place to another very quickly while the child is practically immobile. It starts observing the environment to get any clues about how it can also move from one place to another. It tries numerous experiments and as it fails, it tries another move. Finally, it somehow starts crawling. It does not give up and one day is standing, then surfing, and then walking. No one told the child to walk, no one taught the child to walk (the instructions we gave were of no use, if you really get what I am saying), and no one had to keep reminding the child why walking is such a fantastic thing and it should keep practicing walking lest it forget it. None of this was required and the child will never forget it because the approach used was “Natural Learning.”

How about bringing “Natural Learning” to behavioural training? Imagine a program where we do not tell the participants what they are going to learn, do not give them any instructions about how to build the new abilities, do not test and debrief them that they have developed new abilities – they just develop a new ability naturally without them even realising it.

As discussed before, this is how we have learnt out whole lives. It’s time now to bring this type of learning to leadership programs. It’s time for “Natural Learning”.

Natural Learning” will require designing programs in a very different manner. We will dig deeper into it tomorrow.

The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

Rajeev Roy- The missing piece of the puzzleI have shared my experience in the earlier posts about the “Monday Syndrome”, especially for Behavioural Training Programs. The syndrome refers to the limited impact that these programs have on the participants. However, behavioural programs are critical for organisations and especially for ones that are going through change. So, let us now look at what is missing in these programs that limits the impact.

Let us begin by looking at the process of training design and development. Training was originally used to teach new skills – starting with rearing cattle and cultivating land, graduating to using machines since the industrial revolutions, and finally to mastering the digital world, amongst numerous other areas. The approach is similar – observe or research how to be effective at doing a particular job (create knowledge), create a mechanism to transfer this knowledge to another individual (develop technique), and finally train the concerned people (training).

There is an assumption in this approach – every individual will be able to develop the desired skills by following the techniques. It is also very logical. If I exactly tell someone how to drive a nail in the wall using a hammer, there is no way someone will not learn it. The only variable can be the time it takes one to master the skill. This works perfectly for the skill development programs.

This approach is extended and applied to behavioural training. However, there is a not so obvious omission. When it comes to skills, people are at different levels of the skill and hence take different time to reach the same level of mastery. When it comes to behaviours, people are in different “worlds”. Haven’t you experienced someone dealing with an interpersonal issue at work with an ease that totally stumped you? You had never even imagined the perspective demonstrated by the other person. You were operating from another world altogether.

What’s missing in my opinion is a learning approach which is tailored to altering behaviours. An approach which naturally alters the behaviour of people without assessing their current state or training them about something. An approach by which the behaviour alters without the knowledge of the person.

We will explore such an approach tomorrow.

Rajeev Roy – Entrepreneur, Business Accelerator, and Coach

Rajeev.RoyRajeev Roy is an experimenter at heart and am committed to support people and organisation explore and realise their maximum potential.

He leverage on my education of Engineering, MBA, and CFA coupled with 20 years of experience working with great companies like Accenture, Genpact, Eicher Motors, and Alvarez and Marsal to alternate between the roles of an Entrepreneur, a Business Accelerator, and a Coach.

He run a Consulting and Training company (Floatstone Consulting), an Advertising Agency (Aspire Cerebro), and a Digital Marketing company (Aspire Cerebro Digital)

In my previous role, I headed the Domestic Formulations business of Wanbury Limited, which is one of the fastest growing pharmaceuticals company in India.

Earlier, I was working with Alvarez & Marsal’s Mumbai office. I helped companies achieve their top-line and bottom-line objectives through hands-on performance improvement.

Before this, I was leading the Analytics (KPO) delivery for all third-party accounts at Genpact. I was leading the management level hiring function in my earlier role at Genpact.

Prior to this, I was a management consultant Accenture and gainer extensive experience across the consulting lifecycle – from business development through to execution. Worked across industries ranging from Utilities to Oil & Gas to Automobiles and Pharmaceuticals.

Rajeev Roy started with Eicher Motors creating, implementing, and running one of the machine shops.