Why is experiential learning superior to every other kind? In a word: feedback. Jerry Weinberg explains simply and concisely.
“Why is reading or writing something different from doing something?
First consider reading. Reading is (usually) a solitary activity, with no feedback. Without feedback, there’s no check on what you believe you’re learning.
Now, writing. Unless you put your writing in the hands of someone (or perhaps some computer analysis app), there’s also no feedback, so there’s no check on whether you wrote sense or nonsense.
When you do something, you interact with the real world, and the world responds in some way. With the world’s feedback, you have the possibility of learning, confirming, or disconfirming something. That’s why we strongly favor experiential learning over, say, lecturing or passive reading or writing.” —Jerry Weinberg, Why is reading or writing something different from doing something?
I’d like to add one more reason for leaving a job:
The pain of the job isn’t worth the gain.
Though this is related to Jerry’s 5th reason, I think it’s worth being explicit about the effect of a job on your mental, physical, or spiritual being. Many years ago I took on a client where every interaction was unpleasant. The owner argued with me about my recommendations, groused about my bills, and repeatedly implemented something different from what I had proposed and complained about the results. It took me a while, but one day I sat down and wrote him a letter that said I was unable to work for him anymore. It was the right decision, it felt good, and since then I’ve been better able to disengage in a timely fashion from work that isn’t working for me.
Sometimes you have no choice but to continue with a job you’d leave if circumstances were different. Sometimes you have no choice but to leave a job. But when you have a choice, don’t overlook your own needs because of a commendable but perhaps now misguided loyalty to the commitment you made when you began.
“What are the basic skills required to be a good programmer?”
When this question came up on Quora.com, lots of good and useful answers were given, but they all seemed to be external answers. For me, with more than 60 years of programming experience, the one thing that made me a better programmer than most was my ability and willingness to examine myself critically and do something about my shortcomings. And, after 60 years, I’m still doing that.” —Jerry Weinberg, What are the basic skills required to be a good programmer?
Being continually willing and able to notice our shortcomings and concentrate on working on them may be the most effective strategy we can use to get better at anything we do.
Image by Jonathunder (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I’m happy to announce that my new book—The Power of Participation: Creating Conferences That Deliver Learning, Connection, Engagement, and Action—will be available for purchase in all formats and outlets on June 30. But you can save money by purchasing directly from me before July 1 at never-to-be-repeated prices.
“This is a book that should be OPEN on every meeting planner’s or event marketer’s desk, and used every day.” —Paul Salinger, VP of Marketing, Oracle(many more embarrassingly good reviews below)
Smart presenters and meeting organizers are integrating experiential learning and peer connection into their events. This book tells you how to do it. Buy The Power of Participation to learn why it’s so important to incorporate participant action into every aspect of your event, what you need to know to create a meeting environment that supports and encourages participation, and when and how to use this extensive compendium of specific, detailed techniques to radically improve your sessions and meetings.
The following prices for The Power of Participation are only available before July 1. On that date, this page will vanish like a dream.
Thirty minutes free consulting will be provided for any first-time purchase directly from this site.
Shipping paperbacks to U.S. addresses is included in these prices. Shipping paperbacks to addresses outside the United States will incur an additional cost, viewable for single copies once you have added items to your cart.
Praise for The Power of Participation: Creating Conferences That Deliver Learning, Connection, Engagement, and Action.
“It may be a radical idea to turn attendees into participants, but in an environment of information overload and disconnection, we need it more than ever. The Power of Participation can transform how we act as workers, learners, citizens and ‘participants’ in our globalized world. This is a book that should be OPEN on every meeting planners or event marketers desk, and used every day.” —Paul Salinger, VP of Marketing, Oracle
“This book is a must for anyone who needs guidance in modernizing meetings. Finally we are moving into a new stage of post industrial meetings where all participants are valued, not only those behind the microphone. Well designed participation is key, and Adrian shows us the way. Buy it, read it and do it!” —Eric de Groot, Meeting Designer and co-author of Into the Heart of Meetings
“No one should plan a conference without this book!” —Naomi Karten, Author of Managing Expectations
“We have to start meeting like this! A treasury of proven techniques, clearly written, based on first-person experience and deep insights.” —Bernie DeKoven, Author of The Well Played Game, game designer, and fun theorist at deepfun.com
“Too many conferences are top-down, over-caffeinated, information dumps. Adrian Segar has figured out a different model: a participatory, community-driven event that yields benefits that last far beyond the conference itself. If you want to make a lasting difference with your group today, you owe it to yourself to read this book.” —Dr. Nick Morgan, President of Public Words and author of Power Cues
“Love The Power of Participation! It’s a fabulous compilation of techniques to bring more interaction to your conferences. I’ll be keeping this reference book handy whenever I design a meeting for a client.” —Kristin J. Arnold, CPF, CSP, founder of Quality Process Consultants, and past president of the National Speakers Association
“A must read handbook of the what, why and how to move passive conference consumer-based attendees to active engaged participants.” —Jeff Hurt, Executive Vice President, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting
“Adrian Segar’s work is crucial for the evolution of the event industry. This book is a mandatory read for the modern event professional. Adrian shares a logical approach to changing our outdated event designs, and guides you with practical techniques towards a value centered model, where the clear winners are both the conference organizer and the attendee. It’s time to shake up our conferences and make them more relevant and attractive. The Power of Participation provides the first step towards achieving conference success.” —Julius Solaris, editor EventManagerBlog.com and author of The Event App Bible, Social Media for Events and The Good Event Registration Guide
“Adrian wants to transform attendees into participants. And in this book, he shows you how to do it. As an organizer of professional conferences for the past decade, I wish I had come across Adrian’s books earlier in my life. It would have made me more confident and competent.” —Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan, Founder and Resident Mad Scientist, the Thiagi Group
“Adrian Segar’s The Power of Participation is a catalog of tools for designing meetings. If you want to improve your meetings, keep a copy right there on your desk, always ready for instant access. Better yet, study the tools in his catalog so they’re right there in your brain, always ready to build first-class meetings that everyone loves.” —Gerald M. Weinberg, The Consultants’ Consultant, author of over 40 books, including classics The Psychology of Computer Programming and An Introduction to General Systems Thinking
The Power of Participation: Creating Conferences That Deliver Learning, Connection, Engagement, and Action Publisher: Segar Consulting Release date: ebook: June 2015 | paper book: June 2015 Page count: 322 Size: 8½ x 11 ISBN:978-1511555982 List Price: $27.95 (Paperback book) | $13.95 (PDF ebook) | $33.95 (Paperback book and PDF ebook combo) The ebook and paperback/ebook combo are available only directly from the author.
According to a widely ballyhooed recent study, event planning is the 6th most stressful job. I have no idea if that’s true, but, looking back on the two-day event I ran last week, I estimate that I had to solve well over a hundred on-the-spot problems that cropped up during the twenty-four hours I was on duty.
If you’re looking for a solution to a problem, there’s a natural temptation to pick the first solution you come up with.
In my experience, this is usually a mistake. An understandable mistake, for sure, but still a mistake. Most of the time, the first solution I come up with is not the best choice, so it’s worth taking a little more time to think before springing into action.
You can reduce the possibility of a poor decision caused by a hasty response by employing The Rule Of Three.
The Rule Of Three Before deciding on a course of action, come up with three alternatives.
Here are three ways of thinking about The Rule Of Three.
1) Family therapist Virginia Satir encouraged people to have at least three choices. She said:
…to have one choice is no choice; to have two choices is a dilemma; and to have three choices offers new possibilities. –The Satir Model, Virginia Satir et al
2) Jerry Weinberg (who came up with this rule’s name) puts it another way that should get your attention:
If you can’t think of three things that might go wrong with your plans, then there’s something wrong with your thinking.
3) One more formulation: If you don’t have three options for a solution to a problem, you don’t understand it well enough yet, and you might need to explore it more.
Applying The Rule Of Three It can be hard to apply The Rule Of Three, especially in stressful situations. Sometimes I have a hard time resisting acting on the first idea that pops into my head.
Here are two ways that help me apply The Rule of Three:
1) Get help to come up with more options. When I’m under pressure, asking trusted colleagues to help brainstorm alternatives is a great way for me to widen my problem-solving horizons and avoid missing a great solution. Two (or more) heads are better than one.
2) As with making most changes in your life, practice helps. Commit to apply The Rule Of Three to problems you encounter for three days. Then evaluate the results. How and under what circumstances did The Rule Of Three work for you? Decide whether you want to continue the commitment to maintaining this new approach to problem solving.
Uh oh, only two options here. I’m looking for at least one more. Suggestions?
You may not think of yourself as a consultant, but you probably are. Peter Block, in his classic book Flawless Consulting, defines a consultant as someone who has influence but not the authority to make changes. While some, like myself, are full-time independent consultants, a much larger number of people are internal consultants: people who are employed by an organization that, at times, puts them in a role of giving advice without the power to implement it.
Here are nineteen of my favorite pieces of wisdom from Jerry, followed by the names he gives them and brief commentary from me.
You’ll never accomplish anything if you care who gets the credit. (The Credit Rule.) Check your ego at the door.
In spite of what your client may tell you, there’s always a problem. (The First Law of Consulting.) Yes, most people have a hard time admitting they have a problem.
No matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem. (The Second Law of Consulting.) I learned this after about five years of being engaged as a technical consultant and repeatedly having CEOs confiding to me their non-technical woes…
If they didn’t hire you, don’t solve their problem. (The Fourth Law of Consulting.) A common occupational disease of consultants: we rush to help people who haven’t asked for help.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (The First Law of Engineering.) Must. Not. Unscrew the tiny screws just to check what’s inside.
Clients always know how to solve their problems, and always tell you the solution in the first five minutes. (The Five-Minute Rule.) Unbelievably, this is true—the hard part is listening well enough to notice.
If you can’t accept failure, you’ll never succeed as a consultant. (The Hard Law.) Everyone makes mistakes, and that can be a good thing.
Helping myself is even harder than helping others. (The Hardest Law.) The hardest things to notice are things about myself.
The wider you spread it, the thinner it gets. (The Law of Raspberry Jam.) Or, as Jerry rephrases it: Influence or affluence; take your choice.
When the clients don’t show their appreciation, pretend that they’re stunned by your performance—but never forget that it’s your fantasy, not theirs. (The Lone Ranger Fantasy.) “Who was that masked man, anyway?”
The most important act in consulting is setting the right fee. (Marvin’s Fifth Great Secret.) Setting the right fee takes a huge burden off your shoulders.
“We can do it—and this is how much it will cost.” (The Orange Juice Test.) Jerry uses an example straight from the meetings world for this one—event professionals will recognize the situation, and appreciate the insight.
Cucumbers get more pickled than brine gets cucumbered. (Prescott’s Pickle Principle.) Sadly, the longer you work with a client, the less effective you get.
It may look like a crisis, but it’s only the ending of an illusion. (Rhonda’s First Revelation.) A positive way to think about unpleasant change.
When you create an illusion, to prevent or soften change, the change becomes more likely—and harder to take. (Rhonda’s Third Revelation.) Notice and challenge your illusions before they turn into crises.
If you can’t think of three things that might go wrong with your plans, then there’s something wrong with your thinking. (The Rule of Three.) The perfect antidote to complacency about your plans.
The best marketing tool is a satisfied client. (The Sixth Law of Marketing.) Word of mouth is the best channel for new work; being able to satisfy my clients led me to a successful, twenty-two year IT consulting career without using advertising or agents.
Give away your best ideas. (The Seventh Law of Marketing.) When you teach your clients to handle future similar problems themselves, they’ll appreciate your generosity and are more likely to give you further work or good word of mouth to others.
Today I was thinking about adjusting my consulting rates, and remembered that Jerry has a lot to say on this subject too. Understanding his Ten Laws of Pricing made it easy for me to set fees for my work, and, more importantly, helped me feel comfortable with the role of money in my professional life. #2 alone gave me the confidence to bill an additional six digit income during my IT consulting career, and #9 makes setting your rate for billing or being charged anything a snap.
So here are Jerry’s Ten Laws of Pricing. If you like them and want to know more, do yourself a big favor and buy his book!
Pricing has many functions, only one of which is the exchange of money.
The more they pay you, the more they love you. The less they pay you, the less they respect you.
The money is usually the smallest part of the price.
Pricing is not a zero-sum game.
If you need the money, don’t take the job.
If they don’t like your work, don’t take their money.
Money is more than price.
Price is not a thing, it’s a negotiated relationship.
Set the price so you won’t regret it either way. (Also known as the Principle of Least Regret.)
All prices are ultimately based on feelings, both yours and theirs.