Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

May 2018

Educating Shaping Working

Though the roster took up to 12 students, there were only a half-dozen registered for the class. However, only one showed, and now, 15 minutes after the class was supposed to start, a decision needed to be made: cancel the class, or run another 1-on-1. The student decided to do the 1-on-1, they needed the lessons for the upcoming quarterly reports. Anything to understand how this application worked better would help at this point, they were overwhelmed. And so, with the understanding of their specific job needs, we did the class.

The class took only half the time since there was just one student. Their expectations for what they’d get out of the class was over and above their initial thoughts according to the evaluation afterwards. “How can a student’s expectations shape a better outcome,” I was left to wonder. Personalized classes, apprenticeships, professional mentoring, and even smaller instruction cycles can improve retention of materials taught — but what’s transferred (transformative) is harder to pin down. Yet, I still see that former student when go back to visit that enterprise. They are happy to state again and again how grateful they were for the class, and how much they still use to this day. Over a year since that modified class, education reshaped their work.

There’s something about consistent, relevant, and challenging education which supports and shapes work. Now, there are many who will speak better on the topic (for example notes from this interview are worth re-reading. But, we can state, there’s a measurable difference in the kind of education which just signals we are fit to work, and the education which enables us to shape our work. In the story above, the former was necessary — signaling was needed because some measure of the jobs-to-be-done were not being done. The latter was the better affect of the educational expereince. A set of behaviors and tools were customized for a specific type of work, then made reproducible such that it could continue to shape the work long after the initial educating was done. A ripple effect… or more like ripples which shape.

In thinking and putting forth Avanceé as a different metric towards what work looks like, it is these kinds of ripples we look for. Not so much to see a report later of favorable design, better opportunities, or even smart behaviors in a system or process. But, there’s something that’s more core to being human/humane when people are given a means to shape their reality. To grant agency, even when you are working for someone else, is a kind of education many could get behind.