Almost all thought leaders in entrepreneurship emphasize learning fast as an entrepreneur.
“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else” – Eric Ries of Lean Startup
However, rarely any focus on HOW to learn fast and measure if you are doing it EFFECTIVELY. They assume entrepreneurs will take care of that……
But in my experience, entrepreneurs are most likely to be blinded with biases. This is due to a variety of factors – stress, fear, uncertainty, making prompt decisions etc. which affects their ability to think critically through a situation.
You see “learning” is a broad topic and it has to be broken down. Many chain-smokers or drug-addicts go back to their normal behavior shortly after a health issue – stroke or even heart attack. They do not “learn” that their habits are causing self-harm neither do they really take time to consider its effect on environment or their loved ones. Likewise is true for entrepreneurs.
Therefore, entrepreneurs should break down learning into – experience, reflection, takeaway, and application. For example, if a project or a venture fails take time out to note down what went wrong, what to do better next time, and what not to do. Yes, write it down because your brain employs your hands and writing as tools to organize and improve itself.
I have made this mistake and I see many entrepreneurs not truly deeply learning. As the saying goes, making the same mistake the second time is like tripping over an obstacle – avoidable by paying a little attention.
Therefore, any entrepreneur wanting to learn fast must apply a very conscious effort to translate the experience into the psyche.
This is how I have tried to improve my learning as an entrepreneur;
How to Learn Effectively
KEY TO SUCCESS- WRITE IT DOWN
1. Identify the Blind Spot – What caused the setback? Was it poor understanding of the customer, poor communication with the team, lack of strategic reflection, blinded by “my baby” biases?
2. Create a Checklist to Avoid that Blind Spot – Now that you understand what went wrong. How would you do it correctly the next time? Write the steps down and follow it next time. (If doctors can save more lives using a checklist so can entrepreneurs – Checklist Manifesto).
3. Rinse and Repeat – Rarely will you ever come up with a bulletproof checklist the first time around. Update is as you discover blind spots and learn more.
4. Share these Lessons with Your Team – This will help them call each other out of on it. There is too much ego involved in startups (which is good and bad) this helps maintain a healthy balance.
Why write things down?
- Eliminates the bias – makes you consider the bare facts (not emotions or fear)
- You want stress-free productivity, thus, write things down. (GTD Principles)
- Reaffirms the lesson and articulate it (……I blog about it).
By following this procedure, overtime you fail forward – overcoming the obstacles one at a time and begin to do the work that matters.