We believe in the power of discovery learning. We would rather guide someone through the process of innovation than talk about it. Talk and knowledge are important, but experience is key. Everyone has had different education and experiences that have prepared them for where they are today. Your life path gives you a unique view of the world. Taking time to learn from your experiences can be a key to success.
Edison stated, “You cannot put a price on the knowledge gained by children when they are allowed to see something with their own eyes, such as a cocoon breaking open and a butterfly emerging.” I once worked with some young engineers who were fresh out of college. They were smart, full of energy, and unfortunately they were struggling to do the work assigned to them. After some discussion it was decided that they needed to spend time in the field doing very basic things, including putting on some work gloves and turning a wrench. They did not understand that some of their great ideas, had very difficult practical application. After the time in the field, their ideas improved and they were a greater asset to the organization.
Many innovations come from observing the world around us and then discovering an innovation. For example, Velcro was discovered from watching seeds stick on pants after a walk in a field. We see things every day that can be learning experiences for us. Here are three steps in discovery learning that you can use in your life.
- Observe – “In regard to things I have never seen before, I would rather examine something myself for even a brief moment rather than listen to somebody tell me about it for two hours.” – Thomas Edison
- Reflect – Without reflecting on your experiences, they are just moments in time. With reflection and thought they can become life changing events.
- Apply – Take what you have reflected on and do something with it. Give it a try. Often your success or failure are not as important as the effort. Either way you have something new to observe and reflect upon. Edison explained, “I can never find the things that work best until I know the things that don’t work.”
The world is a laboratory that we work in every day. We can just have experiences or, we can take time and discover what we can learn from them. We may be able to observe and learn what is needed for our innovation or any other problem we face.