I have been giving a lot of thought recently to learning. It is a topic I have keenly followed for many years and it suddenly hit me – learning by observation.
What brought this on? Two issues:
- The publication of my book Strategies for Project Sponsorship which will be published at the start of May. The statistics show that we do not have enough effective or active project sponsors.
- 2. A recent training course where I was asked how do we become effective sponsors if we do not have the training, nor the development opportunity?
I replied tongue in cheek that people should read the book, however I majored on learning through observation. I asked how many people had learned through observation. The whole group nodded and agreed.
I then asked the group to identify 3 people they had learnt from. I added these could be project managers, project sponsors or project team members. I also added that this could be positive learning (I saw them deal well with this issue) or negative learning (I wouldn’t do it that way). They put what they had learnt onto post it notes and I put them onto the flipchart.
The results were very interesting:
- the majority were in the negative learning (I wouldn’t do it that way)
- the group asked for clarification as to what specific term meant or to explain the learning in greater detail. Interestingly people said they learnt from this process!
- it showed that observation is a powerful; way to learn
I then tried to answer the original question which was: How do we become effective sponsors if we do not have the training, nor the development opportunity?
I suggested that the groups take away all of the positive comments and they look at their behaviour asking specifically what needs to change? Furthermore, I suggested they look at the negative behaviours, and asked them what they wanted to do about them? Not copying what they had observed / what they have seen was the overall response.
I did point out that the answers on post it notes are based on:
- an individual’s interpretation of good/bad behaviours
- that what the observed is situational – the time, the place, the mood etc. of all those involved
So beware, you are being watched!
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