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Jim Benson


Learning to Climb: Metacognition Is Freedom

Be aware of how you think; learning will roll right in

Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - 11:01

Human beings are good at placing roadblocks to success and building plans that can’t be followed. We tend to fall back on our “common sense” or “snap judgement” which often makes us feel like our cavalier decisions were actually thought out. Yet, time and again, we find ourselves in deadline crunches, worried about upset customers, or angry with others because we didn’t get what we want or got it too late.

This is because we take on too many tasks, stick to already failed plans, and don’t steer around obstacles we later say “if only we...” about.

At a time in the world where we are fully engaged with snap decisions, Personal Kanban users have the opportunity to understand, and show other people how we actually learn. In learning, we can actually take control of our work.

Personal Kanban is a metacognitive system. When we move stickies through our Personal Kanban we are seeing (with our eyes) how our work... works....
What do we enjoy doing?
How do we change how we write stickies over time?
How do we change the columns or sections on our board?
What do we do when the done column fills up? (Hopefully we’re learning what went well).
What tasks do we work with others on?
When do we clean tasks out of the options column when they’ve aged out?
What tasks did we do that we didn’t put on the board?
What tasks did we choose not to do that were important enough to create a sticky?
What tasks changed in their product between writing and finishing?
What do we learn?

Which leads to:
How does this change our ways of working or living?

As we become comfortable with these questions, we realize that life is about creating things, working together, and being proud of our work. As we see the tickets flow across, we learn what is right—for us, for the person we’re delivering work to, for the people we are working with.

First published April 2018, on the personalkanban blog.


About The Author

Jim Benson’s picture

Jim Benson

Jim Benson is the creator and co-author (with Tonianne DeMaria) of the best seller Personal Kanban (Modus Cooperandi Press, 2011) winner of the Shingo Research and Publication Award, 2013. His other books include Why Limit WIP (Modus Cooperandi, 2014), Why Plans Fail (Modus Cooperandi, 2014), and Beyond Agile (Modus Cooperandi Press, 2013). He is a winner of the Shingo Award for Excellence in Lean Thinking, and the Brickell Key Award. Benson and DeMaria teach online at Modus Institute and consult regularly, helping clients in all verticals create working systems. Benson regularly keynotes conferences, focusing on making work rewarding and humane.