This blogpost will be a bit different than all other blogpost that we’ve written on this site, so far. It’s rather a personal story. But bear with me, there are some lessons learned/confirmed in there. Everything we do, can be a learning moment.
My brother is, well was, a bank officer. He got a promotion and is now the bank director. So, I wanted to get him a gift. Nothing fancy, just a kind little gesture. That got me thinking: “What does a bank director need?” Banks do still use a lot of business cards. So maybe I’ll get him a personalized business card holder. Or even better: I can make one myself. There’s only one problem, I know very little about woodworking and I’m all thumbs.
However, I do know how to acquire a new skill, because I work in learning and development in very diverse businesses and organisations, and I’m working on how to teach and coach people on a daily basis. I’ll use the 5 moments of need as the framework to guide my learning. The 5 Moments of Need is a performance support framework used to acquire effective performance in a job. The 5 moments stated in the name of the framework are: when learning something new, when learning more about a subject, when applying your knowledge, when you need to solve a problem and when something changes. For the new skill I’ll need a small amount of theory (basic woodworking videos on YouTube – NEW). I’ll need a safe place to practice (APPLY), and some guidance when I encounter a problem (woodworking.nl is a wonderful woodworking forum if you ever need one – SOLVE). That should do the trick. I had 4 months until Christmas, the moment I wanted to gift it to my brother. That should be ample time.
After watching YouTube videos for a few hours, I felt ready to get going. I drew some plans. Nothing special, I just wanted to incorporate the letter ‘T’, the first letter of his first name, ‘Tim’, in the design. I had some materials from our home renovation left: a saw, a speed square, a plane … Everything I needed to finish this project, except wood and wood glue. So, I went to the lumber yard. After explaining my project to the shop assistants, they took me to a pile of wood destined to be firewood. The small amount of wood I needed could be recycled from in that pile. Instead of burning it, I could repurpose it and make something nice out of some scrap wood. Shout out to @V4wood, they helped me immensely.
So now I had everything I needed. I was ready to start crafting. However, I did have a limited amount of wood. I had to be careful not to waste too much when cutting, planing, sanding … I did a test run to get the general shape right. This model is made from a plywood box that I had lying around somewhere. Cutting, gluing, drilling … It went way better than expected. The plywood business card holder looked great! Let’s try this with some firmer wood now.
Let’s put it this way: plywood and hardwood (beech and padouk) definitely aren’t the same … The plywood was easy to cut and was already nice and straight. The effort to get the pieces I needed, was minimal. The hardwood was a completely different story. It was meant as firewood, so there were no straight edges. Just cutting and gluing this was impossible. It needed to be made straight. That’s a hell of a lot more work. First cutting as correctly as possible. Then planing away the rough edges. And, as I’m not that skilled in planing after watching only a handfull of YouTube video’s, I had to sand it to be as perfectly square as possible. My God, that was hard work.
Of course, mistakes were made. Some wood did end up in the fireplace (a second gift to my brother as I have no fireplace). However, I ended up with the necessary pieces to glue the whole thing together. It may not be perfect, but it will have to do. After gluing everything together, I needed to sand some more, and some more, and some more … Apparently if you’re not a skilled woodworker, sanding is the most important and time-consuming part of it. The result isn’t perfect, but I’m happy with it.
I promised I would get back to learning in the end. How did the 5 moments of need framework guide me in my endeavour?
- New: I needed some information to get me going, but not too much that it would get me overwhelmed. Thank God YouTube is a thing now. I can’t image doing this 20 years ago without that amazing source of information.
- Apply: I made a plan of what pieces I needed, how to create these pieces and how to put them all together. That plan was a kind of quick reference card during the development of the business card holder. I also had some video’s that showed the essential skills that I could reference during my work.
- Solve: When encountering a problem, I had the woodworking forum that would help me on my way.
I did learn some lessons from this project that can be applied in L&D in companies. Most findings confirmed what I already knew, but experiencing them myself, helps me place myself in the learner’s position when I’m creating learning strategies, courses … Maybe they can help you too.
- If I can create this in a matter of hours (spread evenly over approximately a month), anyone can acquire a new skill with proper training, guidance, and practice time. The sky is the limit.
- Practicing in a safe environment is important. I had free plywood I could experiment on. Starting off with an idea and ending up with a new product/service/… is so much easier if you have a practice environment where people can experiment.
- You can practice as much as you want in a training environment. Transferring that new skill to your workplace will give you new issues which will need to be handled. The workplace is a more complex environment than the practice environment.
- Whatever you do, your new skill will still be rough around the edges. That’s completely normal. Don’t discard it, just sand away the rough edges over time! It will be worth the effort.
If you want to learn how to apply these lessons learned in your company, or just want to discuss woodworking (mistakes), feel free to give me a call.