Learning Styles and Business

How your learning style reveals the best way to approach your work and career

The pace of competition and innovation in business around the world shows no sign of letting-up. And it’s often a stretch to keep-up with new ideas, find space to adapt to changing markets or even just to make sure we’re up with current best practice! With all that happening, our choices about how much time and money to invest in learning get both more and more important and harder to balance.

It’s also potentially difficult to know what’s going to suit our learning styles and our type of business, so this article is a quick summary that might help.

The way that different people are stimulated to learn and their preferences for applying that learning can have a big impact in business and on the best way that you can approach your work and career. I’ve also put these in the learning styles and business matrix shown above.

People tend to be stimulated to learn by either:

  • a ‘real-world’ Experience; or
  • by having or finding an interesting Idea.

We then respond to that stimulus, to try and make sense of it or take on-board what we’re learning by either:

  • testing it out in some practical way; or
  • reflecting on it (which is a kind of internal ‘testing-out’).

So, for example, the typical hands-on leader of a business is probably someone who prefers to learn from experience and then go and try out what they’ve learnt in some practical way, often by starting and building a business. In contrast, someone whose learning is stimulated by an idea (either their own or someone else’s) and who then wants to test out that idea in a practical way, is likely to be an innovator, coming-up with new solutions to real-life problems (clockwork radio, bag-less vacuum-cleaner…).

It’s also my experience that everybody can use most of these learning styles. Business people do learn from the theory – they just might prefer it to be (a) bite-sized and (b) based on other people’s real-world experience.


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