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How to be always ahead on the learning curve

The concept of learning curve is very important for any human being in life, be it a student or a professional chartered accountant or a doctor or engineer or lawyer or engineer on the shop floor. There are certain ground rules to be ahead of any pertinent learning curve. These are sought to be explained in some detail in this article.


How do you learn in your life? As a student, at work, as a husband and a father or even in the society? How do you go about cementing such learning on a consistent basis and be ahead of all competitors? How do you be successful at all times?

Answers to these questions can be found in terms of real world experiences. By observing the success stories of people who have been achievers. Most specifically, it would be obvious that they are particular about a) anxious and very keen learning b) learn from everyone and anyone c)chase knowledge sources everywhere d) document learning, including failures and e) keep on revising learning every time.

Anxious and keen learning

Take this real world example. Ganesh was a trainee engineer. His ability to go after data and document data and prepare power point documents, complete with links and hyperlinks, caught the imagination of the leader of the manufacturing unit. He entrusted Ganesh with a huge responsibility of documenting all experiences, including the rare video recording of a particular experiment that was on in the workplace. Ganesh was not only shrewd in documentation. He got across to the leader and gave him his suggestions, based on the very same data he had collected.

It worked. Ganesh became a big hero. His ability to access the vital data and use all his metallurgy knowledge to get effect, became a big success story for the entire organization. His experiences were captured in a video and played across the organization. Yes, there was some jealousy from some seniors who saw this young man as a real threat. Yet, Ganesh was immediately deputed to an advanced course in Six Sigma. No doubt, Ganesh was lucky. He was given a vital responsibility at the right time. Yet, his ability to exhibit the anxiousness and keen learning to the Management was the key.

Similar success can be yours too. All you need to do is to exhibit such keen ability and urge to learn. Managements always look out for initiatives. No one is happy with excuses. Maximum output at minimum cost is the mantra. Everywhere in the entire world.

Learn to maximize such learning opportunities. Knowledge floats around in the internet too. Judicious use of all resources is a must. You must learn from successful persons and knowledgeable elders who have wealth of experience. Once you do this, you can climb on the learning curve.

Learn from everyone and anyone

In the course of his documentation of the vital experiment quoted above, Ganesh had a very useful suggestion from a casual worker. He mentioned this to the Management and got him a reward of Rs.5000 right away. This helped him get the voluntary cooperation of a huge number of people in the team. This is the result of hard work. It was also the result of learning from a very ordinary casual worker. This had a huge rub off on others. There were other engineers who had underestimated the casual laborers.

Please do understand that learning always comes from anyone and everyone. None born into this world is a moron. More so, on the shop floor. Knowledge just floats around and suggestions can come any quarter. Please intelligent enough to refer to books or advanced journals in the particular field, where some documentation of the advanced knowledge is eminently available.

In Management Education, for instance, the Harvard Business Review is the number one journal for a huge number of real world related Global knowledge on Management. Those who are serious about staying ahead of the learning curve make it a point to regularly read this vital journal as a reference point for fresh perspectives that get translated into practical contexts for the practicing manager to learn from. Whatever be your functional specialization, it is essential that you are aware of all the journals providing advanced knowledge. If you do not know this, or read all these, be sure, you will be left behind in the learning curve.

Please do remember that there are fierce competitors in learning. Never for a single moment does our learning stop. Anywhere in the world. In fact, the Americans were a little slow to react to the learning in the field of Quality Management. They neglected their own Guru called Deming.

The Japanese lapped it up. Deming became a demi God in Japan. The famous Deming Award is named after him. For quite a while the American ego brought about a steep decline in learning in the Quality Management context.

You cannot afford any complacency here. Be always on your toes. If you innovate in terms of learning from anyone and everyone, you will be ahead of the learning curve.

Chase knowledge sources everywhere

This is particularly true of higher education at a very advanced level. Robotics for instance. Everyone knows that the USA and Germany are real power houses and fountain heads of knowledge. Hence, an Post Graduate degree and a doctorate would open many doors for advanced research. This is now sought to be combined with artificial intelligence. Some years ago, this was not thought possible. Today, there is a huge amount of interest in both robotics and artificial intelligence. Hence, if you need to even take a sabbatical, do it. Fly to either of these two countries for your advanced degrees.

In India, the IITs and NITs have professors who know as much as those in the advanced West. Impress your Management to rope in the expertise of these learned men. You will have planted the seeds of some innovation.

Keep on revising your learning every time

As Indians, we are experts at being or becoming complacent. Past successes cloud our egos. We become arrogant too. In learning, this is the real danger. You just cannot afford to be complacent. The key is on revising the entire range of your learning every time. As often as twice a week. Your documentation of the exact sequence of events and learning therefrom, can offer you greatest knowledge and learning that you can exploit, both for your current and future tasks.

Take the field of applied behavioral science as an example. The learning that is documented, in terms of scientifically proven research, becomes the starting point of even more advanced research into human behavior in several aspects. The research on leadership is one such. On motivation is another.

It is extremely important to note that unless you are ahead of the learning curve, you cannot beat your competitors. This cannot translate into more salaries, more perks and far better positions.

So, you need to take the challenge head on. Following each of the aforesaid steps will help you to place yourself comfortably in the journey of learning.

All the very best!

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