Give them what they need. Not what they want.

Give them what they need Not what they want

“Give them what they want.” As I was learning about creating courses for our school – HumanWorks, I spent a lot of time learning about how to create courses and teach online. And this was the recurring mantra about new-age learning and teaching. It states that people are very busy these days. And they need just enough information to accomplish a task that is stymying them at this current moment.  

So give the people what they want. 

This led to millions of How-to-Videos and an ecosystem that allows you to theoretically learn anything for free online. And it was a wonderful thing to have happened. Every one of us, at some point, has turned to Youtube to find answers to some task we wanted to get done soon. 

But learning how to think strategically is not suited to such hack-based learning. If strategic thinking is central to your career, especially if you are building brands and businesses, such microlearning is insufficient. At worst, it creates a false sense of confidence in our abilities when our strategic thinking muscles have not been developed. 

The problem is that the How-to world has permeated the world of strategic thinking too. There are too many tips and hacks to solve a micro problem at the point of the challenge. It has given rise to “by the seat of your pants” operators, growth hackers, influencers, and so on. Pull back the surface veneer, and a lot of these people appear hollow. 

The hack masters have one thing that academics find a challenge with. They are teaching from their own experience. 

But strategic learning needs more than a quick fix. It requires a structure and deep imbibition of concepts. It needs the reflective time to think about what is learned and formulate a personal point of view. It needs scientific rigor to apply the learning and then learn from the outcomes to modify thinking. 

Deep learning is the only way to find the path and persevere to be a strategist. It requires you to immerse yourself in learning the whole thing and spending time thinking about what you learned. 

Not be in a continuous bouncing pinball game of moving from one hack to the other. 

Navin Narayanan is a partner at Centre of Gravity. He leads HumanWorks, the school of Centre of Gravity where we teach the philosophy and method of Human-Centered Thinking and its allied skills.

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