The 4+1 Phases of Learning

In this episode, we merge the worlds of statistics, leadership, and personal growth.

I am eager to navigate the “4+1 phases of learning” with you today. This topic, central to our leadership course, particularly targets supervisors but resonates with everyone in a professional setting.

It’s crucial for both effective delegation and understanding our personal development in skills and tasks.

This episode aims to guide you through recognizing your learning phase, whether it’s identifying the unknowns in your skills or reaching a point where you can mentor others. We’re discussing a framework to enhance how we learn, teach, and lead.


The 4+1 Phases Of Learning 

[00:00:00] Alexander: Welcome to another episode of the effective statistician. Today I want to talk about four phases of learning. [00:00:10] So there’s a lot that we talk about this and the leadership course that I have, especially for supervisors, because [00:00:20] this, these four phases of learning are really important for understanding how you delegate and how you work with [00:00:30] people.

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[00:00:31] Alexander: If you don’t have direct reports, this will help you to better understand where you are in a certain skill [00:00:40] in a certain, at a certain task and what you need from your supervisor. And you can then better also basically manage your [00:00:50] supervisor and make him aware about where you are and where you want to get to and what kind of help you need.

[00:00:58] Alexander: That’s it. So, [00:01:00] the first step in learning is what I call the unknown unknown area. So, [00:01:10] unknown first in terms of that you don’t know what you don’t know about a task. So, let’s say [00:01:20] you’re the first time writing an SAP. You may not even know what SAP stands for, let alone where you can [00:01:30] find the template, how that relates to the protocol.

[00:01:33] Alexander: What is the, you know, how you will write specifications based on the SAP, what [00:01:40] it all needs to be in the SAP, all these kind of different things. You don’t know what you don’t know, so you’re [00:01:50] unaware about all the things that you need to learn. Once you now get into it, yeah, you will [00:02:00] understand and see, okay, I have no clue about this and this, I have no clue in which, you know tense, I should write the [00:02:10] SAP, I don’t know how, you know what kind of sections I can just copy over from the protocol how detailed I need to be and all these kinds of [00:02:20] different things.

[00:02:20] Alexander: And you get into, I know that I don’t know kind of phase. So that is a second phase. I don’t, I [00:02:30] know that I don’t know. Then, you learn more about the SAP, you become professional at it, and [00:02:40] you have this kind of conscious way of knowing. You know that you know how to write an SAP. And [00:02:50] so that’s a very, very phase that you can stay in very, very long.

[00:02:55] Alexander: Yeah, and you learn more and you repeat the task [00:03:00] and then at a certain point. You will get to the last phase and that is that you don’t [00:03:10] know that you know. So, you are so familiar with all these different things in the SAP that you [00:03:20] don’t know actually anymore that there’s kind of certain things. Yeah, you naturally kind of copy paste certain things [00:03:30] over.

[00:03:30] Alexander: You write your specifications in a good way. You just do it because you know how that should be done. And that [00:03:40] comes naturally now to you. And so you don’t need to think about it. And if someone asks you something about it, you may think like, Well, [00:03:50] I don’t understand the question, yeah? That’s how it’s done.

[00:03:55] Alexander: How should we do it differently? Yeah? You don’t really get [00:04:00] it. You’re in this unconscious knowledge area. If you think about driving a car, You’re very [00:04:10] likely in that area where you do so many things automatically at the same time that it’s really hard for you to [00:04:20] explain to someone else how to drive a car.

[00:04:24] Alexander: Because you also all do these kind of things, you know, with your feet, with your hands, where you look [00:04:30] at, at the same time, and you don’t think about it.

[00:04:33] Alexander: So, follow these four steps. See? Not knowing that you don’t [00:04:40] know, knowing that you don’t know, so know that you know and see not knowing that, you know, there’s different things that you [00:04:50] need from others in order to move forward at the beginning. In this first step, when you don’t [00:05:00] know that you don’t know, what you actually need is very, very detailed.

[00:05:06] Alexander: description of what to do. First, take the SAP. [00:05:10] You will find it under this link. Then, you take the protocol and these are the things that you more or less can just copy over. Maybe change the [00:05:20] tense or something like this. Here is another SAP that you can have a look into so that you know how to write certain sections.[00:05:30] 

[00:05:30] Alexander: And so on. Get started with that and in two hours we meet again and then we clarify any questions and then you have this [00:05:40] very very detailed approach. You could call it micromanagement and it actually is micromanagement. That is when [00:05:50] you need micromanagement. You can’t just in that thing say, ah, find it out by yourself.

[00:05:57] Alexander: Well, how? [00:06:00] I don’t even know where to look. Yeah, do I need to research myself on the internet? Or I don’t even know that there’s on the intranet some kind of trainings that I could [00:06:10] look into. Well, I don’t know that they exist, so I will not search for them. So in these kind of things, any delegation that is not very, very detailed is not [00:06:20] helpful.

[00:06:21] Alexander: So as a supervisor, you need to, yeah, delegate very, very small. things and have a lot of [00:06:30] support. Maybe even sit next to the person and walk through all these kind of different things. And the next step [00:06:40] there is very often a dip in motivation. Yeah, because now I understand what I all don’t know. And [00:06:50] maybe I was kind of motivated at the beginning.

[00:06:53] Alexander: And now I really get demotivated by all the things that I don’t know. [00:07:00] Sometimes it’s also the other way around. Maybe you’re kind of frustrated at the beginning and then it gets better. So it depends a little bit on your personality. Anyway, [00:07:10] when you’re in the second phase, so you know that you don’t know, you usually need a lot of [00:07:20] encouragement, a lot of further handholding.

[00:07:23] Alexander: Your supervisor should at that time invest a lot into the relationship, encourage you [00:07:30] and give you more reasons to be motivated in that area. Yeah, tell about [00:07:40] stories, how they, you know, themselves went through this kind of dip in motivation at some point. When you’re now in [00:07:50] this next area, because you’ve invested a lot of time, you got support from your supervisor, you’re in the know, No area, [00:08:00] you know, that, you know, then you don’t need a lot of handholding anymore.

[00:08:06] Alexander: What you need is encouragement to [00:08:10] forward get feedback all the time on how things are moving. Of course, those constructive and supportive feedback, not only, you know, [00:08:20] these constructive feedback and talking about feedback and as a different episode. Now, once you have done that, you [00:08:30] can move into I don’t know that I know face and then this is where you [00:08:40] can want to get goals.

[00:08:42] Alexander: You don’t want to get any micromanagement in that area. So whereas micromanagement at the beginning is the only [00:08:50] thing that you should do at the end in this last phase, it’s the last thing that you should do because now giving you detailed instructions makes no sense [00:09:00] whatsoever. Now, there, you need to now lead by setting bigger goals, explaining the bigger [00:09:10] picture.

[00:09:10] Alexander: And at one point, if you’re working in lots of tasks, you’re in this, I don’t know that I know area, [00:09:20] you want to push your boundaries. You want to get into. more demanding tasks. Because [00:09:30] if you only work on these things, it gets pretty boring. There is [00:09:40] Another phase that I think exists, and that is not commonly described in the typical leadership books.

[00:09:46] Alexander: And that is the, so to say, [00:09:50] 4 plus 1 step, the fifth step. And that is where you’re so good at things that you can also explain it to others. [00:10:00] You have reflected on things. You have, you know, gotten over this, I don’t know that I [00:10:10] know into, ah, I understand that I know and I can also explain it to others.

[00:10:16] Alexander: That can be also a kind of an additional kind of [00:10:20] development step for you, that you help others to get to that level in terms of this task. For example, set you. Train more junior [00:10:30] statisticians in terms of how to write an SAP. How to make it effective. That is where you can give input into processes around SAPs.[00:10:40] 

[00:10:40] Alexander: Where you become the subject matter expert in terms of SAPs. All these kind of different things. So that is then the, so to [00:10:50] say, fifth step. So these were the four steps, plus one, in terms of where you can be for [00:11:00] each task in different situations. That is very, very task and situation specific, yeah? It’s not that you’re for everything in, you [00:11:10] know, one of these four phases.

[00:11:11] Alexander: You will be awful in the same phase. For every task, you will be in a different phase. You start with the, [00:11:20] I don’t know that I don’t know. Then you know that you don’t know. Then you know that you know. And then you don’t know that you know. And potentially, hopefully, then you get to the, [00:11:30] I’m becoming a trainer.

[00:11:31] Alexander: Thanks so much for listening to another episode of the Effective Statistician. If you love to learn more about leadership, there’s a [00:11:40] lot of additional episodes here on the podcast, and there are a lot of additional podcast episodes. Coming up. There’s also the [00:11:50] Effective Statistician Academy with lots of content about influencing and other things, technical things, that will help you [00:12:00] become an effective statistician.

[00:12:02] Alexander: So stay tuned for more and be an effective statistician.

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