In this article, I am going to take you through a simple approach to business training that gets you business financial results as you learn. It’s called Fractal Learning and can be applied to the development of just about any skill. But first, let’s start with a little context.
Recently, I was leafing through an old course on six-sigma problem solving which was a staggering 250 PowerPoint slides. The course was structured around the six Sigma terms Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control.
Nothing wrong with that, but it occurred to me that you do not know whether or not you have learnt the course material until you have gone through the full D.M.A.I.C. cycle. Now here was a problem, the way the course was structured, when the teacher taught the define section, he took you through 32 different techniques for defining a problem.
Next with measure, there were 40 different techniques and so it went on through the whole cycle. The 250 slides, took you through hundreds of different techniques in a linear sequence before you closed the loop and solved your first problem. Remember learning feedback does not happen until you solve a problem.
So my question is why can’t trainers teach you the minimum to close the loop and then focus on feedback when you solve your first problem? It would be nice, to learn the most common technique for defining a problem, the most common technique for analysing a problem, the most common technique for improving a problem and then the one most common technique for controlling the solution to the problem. Ta da, you have your first solution, you have some feedback and if the solution is not very good the trainer can introduce you to another more advanced technique within the problem-solving cycle that will enhance the solution.
Fractal Learning Definition
And so, I have coined the term fractal learning that describes a learning process where you learn the minimum to close the course-correction loop so that you can assess the quality of the solution to identify gaps in your learning. This sounds like a much better way to learn than a trainer stuffing your head full with hundreds of techniques before you see any real-world results.
It turns out, that this approach is ideal for business training where you naturally have a business process with a feedback loop in terms of financial results. Imagine, a training approach, where you take a business process, learn an improvement technique and see the profits soar before you learn anything else. It’s a very lean approach and I thought it was original before I came across this TED talk by Josh Kaufmann.
The first 20 hours — how to learn anything | Josh Kaufman | TEDxCSU
The video is brilliant and the referenced “Axis of Awesome” video is at the bottom of this page. So just to recap, the key steps in Fractal Learning are:
- Deconstruct the skill that you are trying to learn
- Learn enough to get into a self-correction loop
- Remove barriers to practice
- Introduce more advanced techniques each time you cycle through, based on the feedback
You will quickly move from unconscious incompetence to competence as you practice and get the results. The business course-correction process could look like the business loop in the diagram.
A. Attract Leads – First, do the minimum to attract some leads. This could be advertising or going to a trade-show. Whichever makes most sense, but just learn one technique and move on.
B. Sell Offer – If someone shows interest, then practice one sales technique for making the sale. If that worked, you could try an up-sell to Enhance the Offer next time through.
C. Fulfill Offer – Developing a product is complex, if you don’t have any products, then offer a service instead or ship someone else’s product. Either way, get something in the box.
D. Collect Payment – Now collect the payment with the easiest payment taking technique. Perhaps use PayPal through an Internet Connection.
You see, it doesn’t have to be difficult. You just keep going round and round the loop making money and learning new techniques during each circuit. Many techniques won’t work, that’s fine. Effectively, you are building a business as you learn. However, you must have a test and measurement system in place to collect the feedback and to prove what works and what doesn’t.
If you like the video and want to learn how to improve your business, then this site is for you. Fractal Learning focuses on these business processes and learning the minimum before quickly turning your learning into action and getting the business results.