Seizing a (Freezing) Learning Opportunity
Most learning happens organically; it is information gathered by experiences, conversations and observation. But occasionally, a type of learning is needed that must be more explicit and more direct than osmosis. And when such a situation arises, leaders need to more seriously consider and use the innovative learning technologies available to them to amplify understanding and increase solutions. I recently experienced this need for immediate information and was reminded how the process of learning has shifted today and changed the L&D landscape.
As I write this, it’s a balmy 28 degrees outside. Typically, “balmy” and “28 degrees” are not two phrases I would put together, but everything is relative. After the Polar Vortex (does this sound like an amusement park ride to anyone else?) embraced the Midwest last week, positive double-digit temperatures sound pretty delicious.
You can guarantee a few things will happen when the temperature dips below zero in the Midwest:
1. Bread, milk, and eggs vanish from the grocery store shelves.
2. There is a newfound (or at least remembered) appreciation for dressing in layers.
3. In addition to people, buildings physically shudder from the icy wind blowing against them.
4. Water freezes, and it makes no difference if it’s in a pipe.
All of these things did occur last week, in addition to many others. But for me, none was as pressing as number four. My leisurely Wednesday morning routine was almost immediately curtailed when I hopelessly turned on and off the tap to … nothing. I ran to every sink in the house, frantic for running water, and by the time I got to the last one, my stomach sank and I knew I was in trouble.
As a homeowner, I admit my shame and failure to understand the inner workings of my indoor plumbing. But almost immediately after realizing I had no water, I harnessed the sense of urgency I felt and got to work. I called the water district to ensure there were no water main breaks, I talked with the neighbors and combed Twitter to see if others were experiencing a similar problem. Dirty but proud, I designed a plan of action to find a solution to the problem.
It was a YouTube video and Facebook chat that really helped solve my dilemma. David Christensen’s how-to video on finding your main water supply valve was an illuminating five-minute teacher that made it easy for me to determine where mine was (hello, random basement closet). Based on that, a conversation on Facebook with a handyman friend and a Google search, I turned on all the taps in the house, lugged a space heater to said closet and waited anxiously. Nearly 45-minutes later, the angels began singing and water came sputtering out of the taps, released from its frozen pipe prison. A happy dance and a hot shower ensued.
Though I wasn’t anticipating it, the Polar Vortex taught me two valuable lessons last week – a reminder that learning is constant, and the opportunity to leverage the many different platforms and channels we have at our disposal, and often take for granted. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and my smartphone were all integral players in my quest for thawed pipes. In business and in life, knowledge transfer can take many different forms, but recognizing and capitalizing on the many ways it can occur is critical. And for some individuals, this easy access to information just might save them burst pipes and a hefty bill from the plumber.