Monday, 17 March 2014

The Power of Cartoons in Learning

We've all heard the saying 'a picture paints a thousand word', what you might not be so familiar with is the research that shows how powerful imagery and cartoons can really play in helping with the creation and sharing of learning. 

One of the most powerful 'after action reviews' we ever facilitated was at the gathering of a group of change experts from several large companies who exchanged views on the key insights they had created in helping their organisations embrace continuous improvement as a way of working. We ran the session with the help of the cartoonist Graham Shaw and to this day, the participants still have a rich and vivid recall of the key why is that?

Well, there's some really interesting research regarding the power of cartoons and using them as metaphors for learning:

  1. Our brains actually interpret images concurrently whilst text on the other hand is processed linearly.
  2. This means we understand, grasp, retain and recall images and their associated meaning better than words.
  3. Research has shown that the best remembered part of any message is the cartoon
  4. Brain research suggests that using metaphors, pictures and symbols helps cement lessons and transfer learning to everyday life and future learning. A visual representation of an experience can be effective long after the experience is over, reminding a group or participant of the key lessons learned. (Willis, 2006, 2010)
Here's a sample of some of the images that captured the key lessons in leading a change in culture. Of course there's no need for a text commentary...that would defeat the object. It's enough to say that these key insights we carry with us in helping clients with complex change to this day.

So with this in mind, how can you transform your learning processes to create rich and lasting insights with cartoons and metaphors?

Happy cartooning!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Move over Just-in-Case Learning!

Here comes Just-in-Time

How many of you have noticed that while you enjoyed the two-day training programme you went to last week, you haven't really applied a lot of the theories from it...yet? You learned a lot about cultures and planning dynamic meetings and although you are immersed in culture and have non-stop meetings, you still haven't implemented the learning... where has your motivation gone? Your good intentions are just sitting there in the darkness... when does the magic of transforming them into strong behaviours happen?

Not to point fingers... but Just-in-Case learning has a bit to do with the struggle here. Yes, we need to learn things "just-in-case" as we did with second languages when we were younger or when we discover how cultures affect each other. “Just-in-case” we are in those particular situations, we will need that understanding, empathy or that skill-set to thrive. Just-in-time learning on the other hand is what you need when you are about to run out the door and pitch a product but need the product features and benefits right there and right then. You can’t wait 6 months until the course happens. And you can’t invest one week for a product you need just-in-case.

Ta da: Just-in-Time Learning! JITL is a toolbox of methods, apps, materials, job-aids, eLearnings, webinars, surveys…etc.. etc… you get the point. It is something that appears when needed, that is easy to use and when motivation is high for implementation. This concept is another way to bridge the gap between formal learning (organised with learning objectives) and informal learning (the opposite and incidental)… It is Non-Formal Learning. OECD defines “non-formal learning” as something not clearly defined, something flexible, where learning may be initiated by the learner or a by-product of an organised activity. Check out:

Whatever the weather, start the reflection… what kind of learning are you engaged with? Just-in-case… or just-in-time?

-Christina Hogan