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Fast Learning

March 12, 2010
by Joe Bormel, M.D.
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I don't need to extol the value and importance of learning to the audience of blog readers at HCI. You get it, or you wouldn't be here. There's a whole generation of us now, who routinely pop over to Google to quickly find "what's up with Kaizen," what's the latest on the Toyota recall," or "how do I get MicroSoft Office 2010 to stop grouping conversations." That said, it's often not fast or easy enough for us to learn in this crazy, rapid paced world, with our crazy, rapid paced lives. With that in mind, I recommend three sources for insight I have recently found useful: 1. Amy Edmondson's The Competitive Imperative of Learning, here. I found this 11-page article so insightful that I read it twice, and found some useful wrap-around content. She makes the point that doing things as fast as possible, aka optimally, may be counter to constant improvement. See the associated graphic. The other concept that she elaborates is the critical role that trust plays in learning. Highly recommended, especially in healthcare management contexts. 2. Daniel Pink's audio interview here ( is worth a listen, or click on the graphic and watch the short video. Pink is talking about his new book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. He talks about learning from the perspectives of the roles it plays in feeding our needs for a sense of autonomy, mastery, and improving our ability to "give back" to our community. He relates these both to being an effective manager, as well as a more effective parent. 3. Gary Rosenzweig does a series of audio and video podcasts to help viewers better exploit their Apple MacIntosh computers. A list of recent video podcasts is here ( I appreciate that this "insight" is more of a trade school than a graduate school thought in nature. The bottom line is this - part of healthcare information technology we talk about here is solely IT. How do we learn to best use IT? For most of us, once we've learned to logon and do a few basic things, the learning slows or stops. Having a daily or weekly publication that opens our eyes to additional possible IT functionality can be useful, especially if it's brief, well done, and topical. Gary's MacMost podcasts do that for me with respect to learning to use one of my computers more effectively. These are a few resources I've recently found interesting and useful. As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.




Thanks for your comment. Thanks also for providing the "how-to-subscribe" information in the graphic.

Since you were kind enough to continue the dialogue, I'd like to elaborate the value of what you do for my readers:

1) People Dont Know What They Dont Know

Pretty obvious statement. Part of what's great about learning through Podcasts is that the creator, in picking the topic, is making the readers aware of things that might be useful. For many of the topics, the reader will often have no other way to know that the capabilities are there.

2) eLearning

Part of the value to me from MacMost, or Manager-Tools or Harvard's HBR IdeaCast, etc is seeing how effectively the content is packaged and distributed. In generally short, focused audio or video podcasts, the new concepts are simply explained and are immediately usable.

That's really fast learning.

Thanks Joe. I know I'm not alone in feeling that sometims the onslaught of information is overwhelming. Anything that can help organize the wealth of information out there is something that can be useful to all of us.

Thanks Daphne. You raise an important point - most of us have competing obligations to our day jobs, our families, and, in some cases finding our next job. These can all but wipe out any available time for discretionary learning.

What I find powerful about Edmondson's framework is that learning is an imperative. It's a mindset that is intertwined with execution. It's in part the competition for time that's the problem.  As Edmondson's article makes clear, the framework must evolve for the kinds of work we do in healthcare.  She provides great examples.

Pink points out that learning is critical to motivation; learning can be more motivating than money.

Rosenzweig is an example of turning the overwhelming information you mentioned into a bite-size meal that fits into our lives. I consume that meal when exercising, commuting, and occasionally during business travel. Since I exercise and commute on most days, it's a handy way to learn. The trick is building it in because you have a genuine passion for the learning you choose.

Thanks Joe.

Gary Rosenzweig
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Joe Bormel

Healthcare IT Consutant

Joe Bormel