“Humans are suckers for scale” – The Art of Simplexity

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In the June 23, issue of Time Magazine, page 61, the article on
“The Art of Simplexity” states:

“A houseplant, with its microhydraulics and fine-tuned metabolism, may be more complex than a manufacturing plant.”

“Humans are suckers for scale. Shock and awe should win a war, until an insurgency beats it back.”

This leads me to think that in the training industry, we tend to think of scale. Case in point:

> The rush to apply the newest gadgets (e.g. Social Learning, Rapid Learning, Mobile learning, etc.) to the biggest number of participants.

> Anything that has to be implemented must be scalable to thousands of learners (e.g. compliance programs for thousands of health care practitioners.

Thinking of scale in itself is not a problem. The challenge is that scale distracts us from what is really happening in the micro-worlds of learning. For example, how many times did we not compile evaluation forms from participants? Oftentimes, evaluation forms pile up and we never get the feedback from participants. In another situation, our interest to lecture to “large groups” makes us feel that we accomplished a lot, but many people in the audience failed to see our points.

The article emphasizes that “everything that seems simple is actually complex and vice versa.” It is only now that through research, scientists are discovering what goes on in small complex events.

I think we miss the opportunity to help learners learn because we oftentimes think scale is more complex. The learner and how to impact his/her performance is probably a more complex undertaking than conducting a lecture to 1,000 people.

Ray Jimenez, PhD www.vignettestraining.com

“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”