No, it’s not the metaphor you’re thinking. I’m actually talking about going ice-skating with my family yesterday (we’re in California, it was an indoor rink). But I had way too much fun re-learning and extending my learning by a very overt practice of learning.
The last time I ice-skated must’ve been when I was no more than 12. I don’t want to tell you how long ago that was, but it’s decades. So I got out pretty wobbly. But I started thinking and experimenting very heavily.
I regularly scanned my proprioceptive (information from your body about it’s joints and angles) feedback (“do I my weight over the balls of my feet?”), watched how I was doing (“are my motions smooth?”), thinking through principles (“how should the angle of the blade affect where the skate moves?”), checking out other people (“are they using the edge of the blade or the teeth to push off?”), etc.
It may sound like hard work, but it was really “hard fun”, as my skating, over the course of an hour and a half, got better than I think it’d ever been. It was fun spending time with my family, helping them, and it was just a ball skating better and better. I wasn’t quite ready to skate backwards, but probably close, and I *know* that’s better than I had been.
Sure, it was accelerated by my previous experience (eons ago), but being conscious about learning let me accelerate my performance better than I had been able to as a kid when I couldn’t self coach, and didn’t have one. I’m pleased to say that my coaching helped my lad accelerate faster too, and I don’t know how to coach ice-skating!
The important point being, if we learn to learn (meta-learning), we can help ourselves perform better. I’ve been on the stump before about it, and I continue to think it’s the key to organizational competitiveness going forward. I think that baking meta-learning into the infrastructure: culture and IT, is doable, and will be the key to innovation.
I think the way to do it is to explicitly address learning as a domain topic, provide support around our regular tasks, and steadily develop it over time. Ironically, speed will depend on slow-learning!
I’m sure most of you actively learn, but explicitly look at how you learn, and consider other ways you might also improve. Also consider raising that awareness more broadly, and how we might do it. I guess we need to learn how to promote learning to learn!?!? Your ideas most welcome!