My friend and first rate consultant, Aarni Heiskanen owner of AE Partners, recently shared some research he found on the Harvard Business Review website regarding learning and retaining the information we consume.
One look at this diagram and you quickly get the sense that our school system and most people’s approach to learning is backwards…at least at first glance (keep reading I’ll explain later….)
The Learning Pyramid
The Sad State of Schooling
When you attend school, whether high school or university, you spend most of your time in lectures. According to this research, of all the hours, days, weeks, months and years you put into learning the information delivered in those lectures…you only will retain 5% of it.
Are Books Any Better?
Next on the list is reading. This one hurts. I read a lot and am a big believer in the power of reading and the affect it can have on your success.
But the research shows that reading isn’t much better than lectures. Out of all the reading you do, you’ll only be able to retain 10% of the information!
Shocking? Not really. When you think about this all makes sense. I clearly remember reading books in university in preparation for an exam. I pushed my memory to the max all so I could ace the test. A few days after the exam all the details of what I had learned became fuzzy. Weeks and months after and I found it difficult to remember much at all.
What Does Work?
Looking at the lower part of this diagram it’s evident that learning through interaction, whether it be a group discussion, putting what you’ve learned into practice and teaching others, is the most effective way to retain information.
The Silver Lining
Should you stop reading or attending lectures, seminars and speaking presentations? Definitely not. The lesson here is that in order to get the most out of the information and knowledge you consume, you need to put it into action.
It’s not enough to just read a book or take a course. To get the biggest bang for your buck you need to quickly take the information, strategies and techniques you’ve been taught and apply them.
Think about how you’ve been learning to this point in your life and how you work with clients…is information being delivered in the most meaningful and powerful form? Can it be improved on?
Food for thought.