Learning to unlearn

Learn to unlearnAs managers, we believe we are doing the right thing by sending our employees on leadership and management training.

Would it therefore surprise you to read, that only 5 to 10% of learning is retained and can be applied after traditional methods of training?

Research on the forgetting curve, shows that within 1 hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50% of the information presented. Within 24 hours, they have forgotten an average of 70% of new information, and within a week, an average of 90% of information will have been long forgotten.

“Whole-day training can be a catastrophe. Our cognitive load is exceeded,” says Itiel Dror, a neuroscientist specialising in learning. His message to L&D practitioners is unequivocal: “Don’t do whole-day learning.” Dror’s view is supported by research by Paul King of the Christian University of Texas, which suggests that not only is traditional whole-day learning ineffective, but it can even be counter-productive. Once the brain’s capacity has been exceeded, learners can’t absorb any more information and they then begin to dump the most recent things that they have learned (HR Magazine, 2016).

Whilst many leaders will agree that one-day courses are ineffective, ‘they find them invaluable for networking, knowledge-sharing and disseminating a strong sense of company culture’ (HR Magazine, 2016).

So, as a manager or a learning and development leader, how do you ensure that you don’t throw away 90% of your training budget, but guarantee that your employees can network, collaborate and learn from others?

Would it interest you to hear how you could reduce this financial drain to below 30%?

While doing research for my dissertation on ‘changing behaviour in three months’, I stumbled on some fascinating facts, which have since been proven and developed further over the last year.

We are so focused on teaching our employees new skills, that we have forgotten to tackle the behaviours and limiting beliefs which are standing in an individuals’ way of successfully applying what they have learned.

Before change and new behaviours can be adopted, the previous behaviour needs to be unlearned or discarded (Lewin, 1946) yet, most organisations are focused on the ‘learning process and do not encourage unlearning structures’ (Argyris).

The AURA approach is based on Kolb’s ‘Experiential Learning Cycle’ (1984) which helps learners ‘learn how to learn, by consciously following a recursive cycle of experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting’ and increases their learning power.

AURA starts with an Assessment (psychometric and 360-feedback) and takes individuals through a process of Unlearning (reflecting & thinking), Relearning (experiencing) and Application (acting); to help them act with purpose.

When leadership and management training is broken up into bite-size chunks, it is retained with ease, but there’s still the bonus of meeting others and sharing ideas. The difference of this approach is that it’s combined with one to one coaching and that’s where the bonus lies. Between the bite-size modules, coaches hold individuals accountable for applying what is learned, ensuring that individuals unlearn old habits, have the confidence to apply what they have learned and ultimately change their behaviour sustainably.

Who wouldn’t want a better return on investment for their training budget? To learn more about unlearning, contact me.