Extreme Learning

This “Extreme” business is getting a bit out of control, but Jay Cross has written a great piece for CLO (April 2005) entitled, “Extreme Learning: Decision Games.” Jay describes to Knowledge Management companies based in Singapore — Straits Knowledge and Pebble Road — who were commissioned to help companies learn how to do business in China.    (JS7)

Foreign businesspeople new to China have an extraordinarily difficult time learning to sense and respond to the culture’s complexities. They don’t need more information — they need to be able to read what’s going on so they will know how to use the information they’ve got. Until now, no one could figure out how to transfer the insight of experienced foreign entrepreneurs.    (JS8)

These two companies attacked the problem by creating decision games, asking participants to work through scenarios, then having experts explain what would happen and why.    (JS9)

These decision games repeatedly test a person’s judgment and knowledge while allowing them to engage with business colleagues in a complex and ambiguous environment. While they are learning about a particular domain, participants also gain insight into the perspectives, styles and capabilities of their colleagues.    (JSA)

Think about it: Exposing novices to multiple ways of seeing and sizing up situations is how expertise is built. Switching the focus from teaching content to challenging contexts intensifies learning. Participants become so involved, they don’t even break for coffee.    (JSB)

This is a fantastic, collaborative alternative to traditional top-down teaching.    (JSC)