As we’ve discussed before here on the screed, I went to school way back in the last century to become a teacher.
To do so where I went to school you had to major in both your field of choice (English in my case) as well as in Education. You studied the information you were going to teach as well as the teaching process itself.
There was a flaw of sorts in that education. English majors do not spend a lot of time on grammar or spelling (even if we do get beaten up about it by our professors). We teachers-in-training had to take a course in philology which other English majors didn’t, but in general our subject matter learning wasn’t much different from our peers who weren’t getting teaching licenses. I hasten to add we DID have to take a lot of courses about how to teach but they were for anyone becoming a teacher no matter the subject area. What I didn’t quite understand at the time was something that I’ve since learned:
If you want to learn something, teach it.
A fairly sizable part of what we do in business is teach. It may be that we need to develop staff or it may be that we’re trying to educate a potential customer about our product. Either way, we’re teaching. The funny thing is that you discover immediately that it’s impossible to educate someone about the subject if you don’t fully understand it yourself. You find the holes in your knowledge base. Many of us have had teachers who we thought were one chapter ahead of the class in terms of their knowledge. It’s the same in business – I’m sure you’ve had the experience of a salesperson who knew less that you did about a product or who couldn’t answer a question without running for an information sheet.
So today’s business point is this: if you want to understand a topic or a product fully, prepare a lesson plan about it as if you were going to teach a class on it. You’ll learn a great deal about it as you flesh out the various outlines. This works for almost anything – it’s almost impossible to explain something if you don’t understand it. Then let me know what you think!