5-A-Day: Learning By Force of Habit

Establishing a learning organization or culture is such a big goal that it can overwhelm our ability to act on it. This piece explores how building learning habits into common routines makes it more manageable, and creates small wins that can lead to big change.

Making learning easier for both ourselves and others is essential, but daunting. Thinking about learning as a set of small habits can make it feel more manageable.

There are countless tools and tactics that help support learning, but the consistent challenge is getting people to use them. Focusing on habits ensures that learning is not a separate activity, but rather is integrated into our day-to-day work.

Learning habits include:

  1. Making our thinking visible
  2. Asking powerful questions
  3. Combating our biases
  4. Attending to causal inferences
  5. Answering the “now what” questions

Some old habits die hard, and new habits can be hard to reinforce. Using the example of her own outdated work habits, the author describes how seemingly small tweaks can lead to big changes by building new habits into small, everyday routines. Using these steps can make the process easier:

  1. Identifying a “keystone habit” to work on
  2. Selecting a routine in which the habit can be embedded
  3. Mapping the current routine and how a new habit can shift it
  4. Introducing and supporting the new habit
  5. Reinforcing the habit

Establishing a learning organization or culture can seem overwhelming. But breaking that process down into smaller, day-to-day changes makes it more attainable and makes the possibility of bigger changes more likely.