Tip #6: Be a habit designer
Ultimately, the goal of most learning activities is behavior change. No matter the topic, we are trying to elicit new and better behaviors in the learner.
Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit changed the way I see my work. He shares the science of how the basal ganglia in the brain builds habit loops that include a cue or trigger, the routine of behavior, and the reward for completing that routine.
Over time, habits become well-grooved neural pathways that almost happen on autopilot, for example how you currently log in to your computer or how you get to work.
When we are trying to create behavior change, we need to think about the habits that are currently in place and how to design new, better habits that will be more compelling than the comfort of the current ones.
I now think of myself as a habit designer. All of my learning design starts with identifying the habit loop I hope to instill, and I work backward from there. Although retrievals are the key to moving conceptual learning into memory, repetition is the key for habit design. The more we fire neurons together, the stronger that neural pathway becomes, to the point that researchers can measure the neurons growing thicker.
As talent development professionals, we are in the business of cultivating potential. Your organization as a whole—as well as every person in it—have unrealized ability, and your job is to cultivate that potential through the learning experiences you create. Work with the natural processes of the brain and nervous system to maximize the impact of your great work.