Ever read a book and found as little as a few weeks later that you can barely remember a single key idea from the book?
Or attended a conference and struggled to remember the following year whether you attended it or not – much less whether you actually learned anything?
Or led your organization through significant market research and strategizing only to find a year later that things remain pretty much the same?
Common sense and lot of research back up the idea that we don’t retain very well what we don’t use. The simple (which is not to say easy) solution, of course, is to apply new knowledge or skills soon and frequently after they are acquired. This goes both for individuals and organizations.
A focus not only on acquiring new knowledge but on actively applying it is the hallmark of successful individuals and organizations in the learning economy. Three questions, along with a simple written or digital note to document the answers, can help drive application:
What 2-3 actions will I (or my team, organization, etc.) take as a result of the new information I have acquired? These need to be written down in a clear concise way.
When will I do these things? The actions need to be put on the calendar, written into relevant agendas – whatever it takes to clearly establish that there are specific times and circumstances in which they will happen.
How will I (or my team, organization, etc.) be held accountable for whether the actions have been performed? What are the measures? When will we check them? What, if necessary, are the consequences of not doing them?
You can call this “implementation” if you like. I call it putting learning into action.
Fight the urge to layer complexity onto the points above. Simply try them as is and stick to them the next time you engage in a learning activity of any substance.