By | Sreekanth K Arimanithaya | Global Talent and Enablement Services Leader, EY Global Delivery Services
Many of you have asked me how I manage to reference as many books – let alone read them. The fact is, you can read a book, or you can simply learn them. When you do the latter, you are able to apply them in various scenarios.
So, let’s start the theory on books with a book. In 1984, David Kolb introduced his learning styles model, which deconstructed a learner’s internal cognitive processes. This experiential learning theory was divided into four stages of learning cycles and learning styles:
- Concrete Experience. Having actual experiences. This is the most identified experience classification, simply because these are easy to process. You learn from what you do. However, the mistake we often make is that we move through a series of experiences without totally reflecting on them.
- Reflective Observations. Reflecting on the experiences. Moving on from the last point, when you reflect on what you have done mindfully – notice what you have applied and what was a new point of view, you are not just feeling the process, but you are contemplating what you learned and doing some mental muscle-flexing. It is important to intersperse concrete learning with this.
- Abstract Conceptualization. Learning from the experience. As you reflect, your thinking gets more active, and you start exploring the avenues of application. To me, a lot of disruptive thinking originates here. In my own experience, the transposing of the agile approach from my manufacturing stint onto innovation in the HR space was possible with the intentional use of this mindset.
- Active Experience. Try out what you have learned. When you iterate and start implementing your ideas on the ground, you enter the active experience phase. Here you have the potential to transform.
Now, each phase has a blurry line between them as it can be a sequential thought process. But it is equally possible to start your learning journey at any point on this experience model.
Now, why does it relate to reading? Most of the time, when we read a book, we are simply following the words or their journey. So, here are three effective tips for better reading:
- Once you finish a book, spend 30 minutes reflecting on it. If possible, pen down what connected with you.
- Observe your surroundings and see where the concepts are in action. Sometimes it may be direct, or in the case of behavioral observations, it’s intricate. So be aware.
- Be curious and experiment. Pick your learning and apply it. When we are parenting, cooking, and socializing, we are frequently tweaking our styles for optimal results. This is in essence application of experience. So, each time you read, apply what you read at home or at work.
Before I sign off, here is a word of advice – Read. Read to satiate your curiosity and fuel your learning. In the coming days, I will share more books that inspire me and my learning from them. If you have any book recommendations or different learning insights for the ones posted here, do drop a message.
PS: I always quote the authors of the books I read. Because to me, they are mentors I haven’t necessarily met, but it calls for an equal acknowledgment.