Going through the Motions

I think Seth Godin nails it most of the time on his blog. So much so that some days I wonder if he’s been following me around watching me slog through resistance (internal and external) to ship an instructional design product to a client.

I saved one post from June 22, 2017 for just this moment, a moment when I find myself going through the motions of checking email and news sites, scrolling through first day of school photos on Facebook, and telling myself that I’m “taking a break to rejuvenate.” If you’re like me, the news and Facebook are generally more deleterious than rejuvenating. Why do I persist in doing something that is actually harmful to my stated objective?

Going through the motions happens in adult ed delivery too. Like when we assign the same type of small group work over and over because we’ve convinced ourselves that any interaction is better than none. Like when we talk too much because…_____________ (fill in the blank with your personal pitfall), as Brian Washburn so aptly points out in his post on Bad Warning Labels

Let’s stop training people in motions that don’t lead to understanding. Dare to just stop, and see what emerges. Chances are, it will be better than the same old same old.

Here’s the post from Seth that started it all:

Staring at the numbers

Sometimes, you can learn a lot by watching. But not always.

An alien observing our behavior in elevators would note that most of the time, a person gets in, approaches the front corner, leaves that corner, goes to the back and then stands silently, staring at the numbers above the door.

Only one of those actions is actually required. If you don’t push the button (or have someone push it for you) nothing happens. The rest—the moving to the back, standing silently and most of all, staring at the numbers—it’s just for show, a cultural tradition.

Most practices work this way. From eating in restaurants to marketing, we add all sorts of extraneous motion to our effort. Which is fine, unless you don’t understand which ones actually matter to the outcome.

Too often, we train people in the motions without giving them understanding. Then, when the world changes, we’re stuck staring at the numbers going by, unable to find the insight to push a new kind of button.

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