Friday, July 10, 2009

Maslow's Levels of Learning

Today I heard Duffy Robbins speak and he mentioned the 4 levels (hierarchy) of Learning.

He attributed them to Abraham Maslow because he thought that was who had published them, but he has looked around and can't find the reference.

They are:
1. Unconscious Incompetence - This is when you think you know it all, but you really just don't realize how little you know. I was like this in my teens and soon after graduating college.

2. Conscious Incompetence - this is when you realize that you have a lot to learn. I can remember being in this stage about several subjects in my life. I can remember being this way with life, with project management, and several times in my Christian walk.

3. Conscious Competence - This is when you get the "book learning." You have the knowledge, the know how, but you have to think about the steps and fundamentals in order to get the job done. I get this way with public speaking sometimes, I have to think about what I'm doing so I don't say "Ummm" all the time.

4. Unconscious Competence - This is when you can do things right without even thinking about it. It's being "in the zone." Some good examples are walking and riding a bicycle, once you learn, you don't have to think about how to do it anymore.

I hope to post a few blogs about applying this principle to other subjects. Learning has always been an important emphasis in my life, so I can think of lots of ways to apply these 4 levels.

Stay tuned...

update 2013-05-06 I just found this article on Wikipedia about "Four stages of competence" that makes a note about who this should be attributed to.

update 2013-07-31 I found this slide presentation about learning yesterday. It's for a different application in healthcare, but still applies. It talks about how to create tension in the "learning ladder" on slides 38-42 and 46-49 are helpful.

Update 2013-08-19 The related idea of creating tension for change is represented well in a few of the slides in the above presentation. Slide 39 is of note since it shows that too much tension can cause "shut down." I've seen this occur several times before when a project team is overwhelmed by a difficult environment. I've also found a few other sites that talk about tension for change: 

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