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My LXD Core Framework:
Consistent Practice with Repetition Over Time + An Integrated, Systems-Thinking Approach

Reflect for a few moments about your own adult Learning Experiences. How much real-life scenario practice of the new Mindsets or Skillsets being taught was included? Was sufficient follow-through practice and feedback provided after the learning program to embody sustainable behavioral change upgrades part of the curriculum? If there was none, how much retention did you have after six months?

Consistent Practice with Repetition Over Time 

Besides the commonalities of proper education, experience, skills expertise, and personal qualities every Learning Designer brings to their craft, how they teach is often very individual. My framework of Consistent Practice with Repetition Over Time is how I have been teaching for many years. More and more it's being acknowledged as what's required to achieve the desired outcome of all adult Learning Projects when what is being taught becomes an integral part of what I call your Internal Operating System.


Think about your own Learning Experiences: the more you consistently practice anything the better you get at it (even if you never attain perfection). Upgrading your old IOS to a new one that has either been running on an old, bug-ridden ingrained Mindset and/or a gap in your knowledge Skillset does not occur in a "one and one" or short-term memory/short attention span indulging course, webinar, or eLearning program.


Without consistent practice over time (on average 66 days), newly acquired "soft skills"/adaptive behavioral Mindsets and task-oriented technical Skillsets don't take hold in an enduring way. Expecting or promoting that a learner can go from to knowing without doing in a short course ignores the essential step of repetition to be successfully sustainable. It might cost less to offer this type of instruction, but in in the long run can be very expensive


For example, picture in your mind a live online interactive learning opportunity that attendees sign up for to learn various employee mentoring and coaching techniques. They are taught great-sounding theories, tools and techniques, and are offered case studies and testimonials about how these skills work in practice. There's time given for discussion and questions, as well as suggestions about how they might put these new skills into practice in their respective jobs. 


Participants even share their thoughts about how these principles align with what their "gut" tells them. They may have given high evaluation scores immediately following the class. All good - right?

Maybe - or maybe not.


The problem is that until they actively practice and refine these new Mindsets or Skillsets, they won't have truly embodied them for when they are need to coach a fellow employee even a few weeks later. They simply may not have the knowledge retention and the confidence necessary to truly guide their co-worker. Consistent Practice with Repetition Over Time provides the necessary core framework for applying new Mindsets or Skillsets beyond theory into real-life situations and interactions. 

An Integrated, Systems-Thinking Approach

Systems-Thinking is a Mindset that does not approach Life (and therefore Learning) in a linear manner; in fact, attempting to do so is quite limiting and frustrating for those who are guided by logic alone. If we look at Learning Design with a problem-solving linear approach only, we block so much creativity, innovation, and possibility in how we can learn, grow, and evolve as human beings. Systems-Thinking requires adopting a different way of looking at the world, and yet there are many people who fight doing this, preferring to stay stuck in an isolated bubble. 


If we are unable to step back and see the Bigger Picture from a multidimensional, dynamic Systems-Thinking lens, we only have blinders and myopic vision rigidly guiding us, thinking there is just one way to reach the outcomes we want, while concurrently dismissing valuable input from other sources that disrupt our comfort level. All input is turned into metrics-based data that is put into boxes and hyper-analyzed in an attempt to make logical, linear sense out of everything – when some things simply are beyond that method of human intellectual comprehension – and it completely disturbs the heck out the control freaks who toss out what they cannot explain or measure. 


Instead of using sheer analysis, Systems-Thinkers consider synthesis – the interrelationship between components and how they function together as a whole. The core principle of Systems-Thinking is that everything is interconnected – not in some a cosmic “woo-woo’ way, but as a sheer matter of the complex, mysterious, and seemingly often paradoxical and chaotic bioscience expressed through Nature. Peter Senge (founder of the Society for Organizational Learning) describes Systems-Thinking as “a discipline for seeing wholes rather than parts, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots, and for understanding the subtle interconnectedness that gives (living) systems their unique character.” 


Systems-Thinking teaches us that a system is an outcome of the interaction between its parts, not just the sum of its parts. For example, holistic medicine considers the collective interactions of all the parts of the human body, mind, emotions, and spirit – and not addressing one isolated organ, emotion, or symptom without seeing how it impacts “Whole Person” well-being. 


Think for a moment about other “wholes” that arise from the interactivity of their individual components; for example: flour, water and yeast mixed together and baked turns into bread. Where else do you see this interplay of multiple parts to create a whole?


While there is much more to Systems-Thinking than just the above, Learning is no different. One of my greatest joys as an educator is when I’m in a middle of facilitating a course, and observing the collective, interactive experience of learners synergistically connecting seemingly different pieces of information together to form a new level of knowledge they hadn’t grasped before. This synthesis is such a beautiful thing to witness when the emergence of a whole new concept of possibility, awareness, and deeper knowledge lights up the eyes, hearts, and minds of learners. 


So, while we of course need to bring a sense of order and progression to adult learning processes, in my opinion it doesn’t have to be linear and data-driven dependent alone. We need to also leave room in our approach as educators for curiosity, innovation, and a sense of wonder and adventure for how it all unfolds and comes together in often unexpected, non-linear, interconnected ways. 

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