A Bow Tie Story: How Just Enough, Just in Time Learning Saved Me

The Tie and the Hat

Ever taught yourself a skill at the moment you needed it? (C’mon, admit it, you have.)

I’m not talking about something as dramatic as learning to land a helicopter while in-flight. But I suppose it could be just as dramatic if you’ve waited until the last moment to learn “x”.

Just another every day run of the mill skill you put off until the 9th hour. And then it’s a white-knuckle ride of “will you or won’t you” until the clock runs out and it’s go time.

How Hard the Tie?
Mine was learning how to tie a bow tie. After all, how hard can it be? It’s shorter than a normal tie and I was told, “…it’s like tying a shoelace.” (Yeah, right.)

For an experienced person it’s easy. But for a beginner it’s a nightmare. Add a few extras and the pot begins to boil:

  1. It’s summer so everything sticks
  2. You’re wearing a freshly starched dress shirt
  3. Your wife is watching, ready to go… (But dear, the wedding doesn’t start until… Oh. Never mind. I have to focus now.)

What do you do? Besides panic?

Create a Personal Learning Environment.
There’s a reason Google and YouTube are wildly popular. For me, it was searching the “how to” videos. Did you know tying a bow tie is different for left and right-handers? What are you are trying to learn? Google it.

Blend It.
Don’t just rely on one medium. Don’t limit yourself.

There may be a well-written job aid or write-up that could also shed light or provide an “aha moment”. Maybe it’s a phone call. Reach out to your friends.

My “aha” was reading that tying a bow tie just below the knee puts it in the same (vertical) position as the neck, allowing you to see the action. (Job aid, videos, self-reading, and practice constituted my personal learning environment.)  What’s yours?

Practice and keep it short.
When it’s just enough, just in time (JEJIT) learning, time can be your enemy and speed your friend.

Time is the enemy because you are running out of it. Speed, your friend because the quicker you get the resources in place the more time you have for practice.

For my tie, it was two dry runs before the final tie was around the neck. (The JEJIT approach isn’t recommended for surgeons or flight controllers.)

There Will Be a Next Time
The next time you need to learn something in a hurry. Focus your efforts on getting “just enough, just in time” content to support you and move on. It may not be perfect but it may be just enough of what you need to get through the moment.

While my wife had to do a little “bow tie arranging” it was a smash hit at the wedding. And I didn’t drag it in the soup!

Ponder and Share
Take a moment and think back to some of the times you’ve had to learn “on the go”. What worked? What didn’t? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

We all look forward to your comments.

until next,
jbird

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3 Comments

  1. Love the photo. You guys look great! Very good analogy as well! As I think about creating engaging learning opportunities, I’m more convinced that bite-size learning is the ticket. I’ll now go and share your post with my awesome team!

    • Lily,
      Thank you for the kind words. You are correct. The next “big” thing is “micro”. Take a moment to look up the Tin Can API As this new standard gets adopted, the learner will have even more control over “just enough, just in time” learning.

      kind regards,
      jbird

  2. Lily,

    Thank you for the kind words. You are correct. The next “big” thing is “micro”. Take a moment to look up the Tin Can API (http://tincanapi.com) As this new standard gets adopted, the learner will have even more control over “just enough, just in time” learning.

    kind regards,
    jbird

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