The session offered a mixture of individual work, small group learning, visual resources, content from Jill, and questions and answers. Speaking as a trainer, Jill used PowerPoint brilliantly – to emphasize key points and to illustrate the emotional aspect of the topic. The slides supported, rather than drove, the presentation!
The central question of the session was: What comes first, Change or Learning? Do we change and then learn, or do we learn from the changes we make? Indeed, can we change and not learn? To some extent, this basic question is unanswerable, but it set the scene for the evening! A distinction was made between the learning of adults and children. Children tend to experiment and make mistakes in their learning journey, whereas adults take a more cautious path, believing perhaps that an abstract ‘truth’ (or body of knowledge) is out there to be obtained. Adult learning requires a third element: experience. Experience can influence the change and learning cycle, and adults learn best through solving problems and being proactive.
It is important to recognise that emotions are inherent within any change. We discussed the emotions we had felt at times of change in our lives, and the majority of these were positive. Jill, talking of her experiences as a Masters student at 39, reassured us that learning could be uncontrollable, uncomfortable and frustrating. Learning requires time, discipline and a healthy does of good humour. Furthermore, real learning is often unintended and it is impossible to rush the time needed to make changes! How then can we be more effective in our change and learning cycle? Jill suggested that visualisation techniques can accelerate learning and help to express our emotions which are bound together with this change process.
- Make Space for Change
- Actively engage through interaction
- Ask open-ended questions
- Consider formal and informal resources
- Find your own voice
The session ended with the opportunity for each participant to make her own "cheat sheet" of the session, listing those techniques which would allow her to effect change in her own life. Indeed, Jill's wish for the session was for each of us to leave the session with at least one idea or plan to enable our change. I found the session challenging and inspiring.
Helen Palmer, May 18th 2005.
William Bridges (2003) Managing Transitions, Perseus Publishing.
Kotter, John.P & Cohn, Dan.S (2002) The Heart of Change, Harvard Business School Press
Kotter, John. P (1996) Leading Change, Harvard Business School Press