teaching Hindu to a Beagle

I have recently been introduced to the "blessing(s)" of teaching grandchildren through helping with their school homework. Hopefully, without getting into Political Correctness ~ we've so far failed to influence their habits with "putting down" the toilet seat. Thinking about our expectations of a positive outcome, brought to mind this old saying about teaching a dog new tricks. On a scale of 10, with 10 being extremely difficult, or even impossible, these kids may be up there at 10!

Teaching the seemingly Unteachable

by Rote


Well, when you don't know what to do, go back to things that worked for you in the past. I'm pretty proud that I know my "times tables", basically backwards. Reminiscing how the teachers got us to remember those tables, is a memory not easily forgotten.  A patrolling teacher with a 15 inch wooden ruler, beat out the times on our backs, while we sang a rhyming song that engraved the times tables in our minds! Did we really know what we were recalling when asked a multiplication problem ~ or did we just "know" the verse?

Who cares, I had all the answers and was able to follow a process that came up with a highly repeatable, highly qualitative, accurate quantitative answer over and over. That is what is required from folks to deliver in a business process. So, could I use this method to teach them and get them to perform?

by "look it up!"

Of course, there are other ways of getting to a "multiplication problem outcome". Way back, when computers were starting to make their appearance, we learnt that early computers multiplied by progressive addition. So; 9+9=18+9=27 etc., 9 was added 3 times so 3x9=27! That was quickly overtaken by greater memory availability & integrated circuit processing power that enabled a Relational Database. So, a table of numbers (results), 1-n down the side and 1-n along the top, allowed a computer to "look up" the answer of 3x9 ~ fast ~ to whichever node was the closest!

So, if you use the rote method ~ the repetitive method, which was almost always coupled to strict command and control ~ or, could you somehow "re-program" new employees to use a look-up table to find "business process" answers? Repetition applied to learning, is self evident, but a look-up table parallel may require an example. Basically, the closest parallel of such a look-up table is a "Process Definition!" A simple desired outcome definition, as in  an "Outcomes based Document" that defines the correct result from a known input. Some might call it a Standard Operating Procedure (SoP). You can't operate a franchise without one. You are remote from low skilled employees (good luck with repetition) who need to produce exactly the same outcome for your product - (like a MAC Hamburger and Chips ~ reliably Repeatable, expected Quality & designed Quantity)

by break them down, then build them up your way!

There are other ways of reprogramming. It normally requires "the teacher" to break down "the student" to the absolute basic, rebuild with the desired "aptitude and motivation" and then, deploy! It takes a lot of merciless re-programming to make a thinking person jump up and go over-the-top into enemy fire! But, who has the time ~ or indeed the permission ~ to do this to modern employees? At the first sign of blood sweat and tears, they are liable to ring the bell and go on to a cushier billet.

"Modern" motivational teaching

My sister who trained as a teacher, gave me a mental picture on how to deal with your children, “that they were a clean slate on which YOU drew every day!” As well as, “if you shout at your children, they will grow up to be “shouting adults!”

Could either of these destructive leadership communication traits describe YOUR style?

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The Hawthorne effect (also referred to as the observer effect) is a type of reactivity in which individuals modify an aspect of their behaviour in response to their awareness of being observed; so, do you observe them all day and measure them relentlessly?


Popularly known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, the principle is often defined to include two versions. The strong version says that language determines thought and that linguistic categories LIMIT and DETERMINE cognitive categories, whereas the weak version says that linguistic categories and usage only INFLUENCE thought and decisions.

it's a mess ~ so, what is the answer?

In this interesting article from Inc. Magazine, which we FLIPPED to our Flipboard Magazine "Entrepreneurial Seizure," Jeff Bezos summed up his winning formula in a single, brilliant sentence: "Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner's mind, and a long-term orientation."

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    Surround Yourself With The Right People,
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    Have A Learn-It-All Mindset (as opposed to a know-it-all),
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    Be Ready To Play The Long Game.

As the ALPHA leader,  do you represent all the virtues (the Spiritual Attributes) that you expect from your people? Think about the wolf pack led by the alpha, the difference between a single wolf and a committed pack, able to take the lead from a dominant, but self-performing example.

Are you proud of your behaviour, the way you speak, what you draw on your employees “clean slates” every day?  Often, you need an outsider to see these things and bring innovative solutions to what must be the single most effective characteristic of performing business teams through strong employee engagement.

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Peter French

Business Coaching is not consulting, it's also not therapy. It's a unique profession that lives somewhere in between these two poles - structured to leave lasting life and business value!

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