One of the perennial challenges of any learning event or ongoing learning community is that the people who participate vary widely in their levels of prior knowledge about whatever topics the experience proposes to address.
This prior knowledge gap can be sizable even when participants come from similar industries and job roles. After all, factors like previous education as well length and nature of experience always vary within a group of individuals.
Why does that matter?
It matters because there is plenty of research suggesting that what we are capable of learning depends to a large extent on what we already know.
In group situations there is, of course, no way to completely level prior knowledge across participants, but it is possible to set the bar for prior knowledge at a level that should be achievable by all participants. That’s the driving idea behind the Emphatically Recommended Readings for the Leading Learning Symposium.
As the symposium approaches, we ask that attendees engage in reading a common set of materials that relate to the business of lifelong learning. To the extent that this effort is successful, it helps to level prior knowledge at the event and also provide what we think of as social learning objects that—along with the event content—can help spark discussion, reflection, ideas, and, of course, learning.
We recognize that everyone attending the symposium is busy. And we acknowledge that we are all adults who make our own decisions about what we will or won’t do. That’s why we’re labeling these readings emphatically recommended rather than required. We can’t require you to do anything, and nothing about the symposium depends on having done the reading.
All that said, we hope you take the Emphatically Recommended Readings seriously. Doing the reading will help you get significantly more value out of the conference, and—by helping you be as prepared and focused as possible—it will also help increase the value that your peers get out of the event through their interactions with you.
Additionally, we hope participants in the broader Leading Learning community will do the readings, even if they will not be present at the symposium. The symposium is, after all, just one point in an ongoing learning journey. To the extent that those engaged in the journey have some common points of reference, the experience will be enriched for everyone.
So, now that you know about the logic behind them, here are the Emphatically Recommended Readings. We have carried three of these forward from last year’s symposium, as we think they represent baseline knowledge that will remain relevant for many years. With the stronger focus on leadership at this year’s symposium we have introduced John Kotter’s classic Leading Change as a fourth reading.
Note that there are shortcuts for each of these. The video on the Make It Stick page covers some of the most critical points from that book; the Blue Ocean Strategy and Leading Change pages include links to the Harvard Business Review articles on which those books were based; and the Influence page features a brief video of Robert Cialdini discussing the six principles of influence.
All in all, the shortcut materials represent roughly an hour to an hour and a half of reading or viewing—a pretty modest investment for boosting the value you get out of the symposium as well as participation in the Leading Learning community. And, naturally, you can engage in reading/re-reading the full works over the longer term.
Jeff & Celisa