Sometimes Informal learning Is Sufficient. And Sometimes Not.

And – Yes – Most Learning Is Informal

Whatever percent you strive for.

That’s because that where all Learning starts.

Before any Formal learning is developed/acquired, there is Informal.

And only Informal.

So you do it yourself. Trial and error. And you get it done.

And so sometimes that is sufficient. That Informal Learning situation.

And there isn’t enough improvement potential envisioned post-any- Formal Training/Learning that anyone should/ would want to make that investment. So it remains Informal.

As I wrote, that is sometimes sufficient.

CCI03152014_0001 (7)

You can always Learn Informally, via trial and error. And with hints and tips and tricks from your network you advance sometime smoothly or sometimes in a herky-jerky manner in between each stop along the way.

Along the Learning Curve. Along the Performance Curve.

But sometimes Informal Learning isn’t enough. The guidance from the network inadequate.

Sometimes the Performance gaps are costly. Sometimes it is worth the Investment to close those gaps.

And sometimes those gaps are really due to a deficit in the enabling Knowledge/Skills, and not one or  more of the other variables.

EPPI Fishbone v2012 - 1- The Process

So sometimes the situation calls for a more Formal Training approach, leading to improved Performance, with informal Learning occurring in between each stop along the way.

Or at each stop actually, continuing my Train Stop analogy.

I’m thinking, as some of you know, about Thiagi’s phrase from the past: “All learning happens in the debriefing.”

At each stop. Along the Learning Curve.

Or the Performance Curve.

When someone saw them linked.

And saw the other connects. To the Gaps. And other variables.

And to the potential Returns. The Rs. For closing the Gaps.

For an I.

A predictable I.

Predictable within reason.

And so because sometimes there is enough R for the I – in the thinking of those who hold the purse strings, so to speak, at any Enterprise – the Investment is made.

If there is enough perceived R for the I then Formal Learning/Training is seen as an investment. And sometimes there isn’t much cost to it. Sometimes a quick, hardly-formal, online set of resources and some quick Formal Lesson is used to pull them all together. And is sufficient. A bunch of quick bites. A bunch of nuggets.

They could be delivered/accessed using any kind of media that is feasible now, or soon, at low Investment costs – for 2 way interaction. For group interaction.

Perhaps even a simple Job Aid would do. Sent online for local printing or whatever someone decides to do with it.

Some Job Aids Are Simple and Built In

Sometimes the job aid is even stamped on the outside of the spool of film that needs to be rewound before its next use. Yes. Way before VHS tapes. Things had to be rewound. And nowadays there is no rewinding. So I just lost some readers.


Sometimes It Is A Little More Complex

Sometimes the situation clearly needs something much more structured than Informal Learning – that just Informal and nothing else would lead to unacceptable Results/ROI. So Formal Learning is needed and introduced.

Hopefully well. Hopefully well.

And by Formal Learning I mean of course “Informal and some Formal and then more Informal” – as you can never take the Informal out of the mix.

Of Learning.

Take the film chain. The camera and the film projector chain. Informal Learning probably wouldn’t do on its own.


Imagine doing the maintenance on this. These.

A film projector.

And an electronics wonder of a color camera, circa 1973. It’s pointing its lens at the projector lens.

See the 35mm slide carousel tray. That was tied in too.

There were two of them. Chains that is.

The tech who worked on this, my shipmate, workmate and friend, had received many months of training from his part of the Navy. The Electricians of sophisticated gear on US battleships.

TV stuff was fluff. Show me the manuals he said upon walking in the door. Quick looks at several pages soon had him tweaking camera knobs with special tools. The color was adjusted and then the two film chins were matched. Just as intended.

Performance and Measured Results

Results mattered.

If the color didn’t match as we attempted a smooth segue from one chain to the next, for a multi-reel movie, as but one example of our programming, we heard about it. All day the next day. And maybe for days or weeks. We had some classic oops moments of course.

We would get immediate and sustained feedback for any non-smooth segue – or – Oops.

Any hick-up. And especially if what was broadcast was one chain’s film flapping in front of the camera happened for even just a few seconds, due to operator error and then quick recovery. Especially.

We had an audience size of 3,000 on my ship.

And we had a 100% market share.

In close quarters.

It’s not about Learning. It’s about Performance. Even in a Learning Organization.

And it’s a good thing I got the Formal Learning in the Nav for my job that I did.



And a good thing for my shipmates.

And so too then for the Captain.

CCI03152014 (14)

And so too then for the Navy.

And for the Citizens of the US.

And for the World.

Talk about R for the I!

And Social Responsibility!



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One comment on “Sometimes Informal learning Is Sufficient. And Sometimes Not.

  1. Great Thoughts, Guy. While you were in Okinawa, I was in Military Ocean Terminal Brooklyn doing the equipment stripdown, removal and reinstallation in MOT Bayonne.
    We had to do a lot of INFORMAL learning, as the manuals had never been written!


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