I wonder a lot about how people learn. I've always considered myself a teacher and have worked at finding analogies and clear statements that people can understand. In this effort, we have produced videos, audios, grids, 13 books, numerous view graphs and other devices. Most of them worked, some better than others. But I have always been on the lookout for effective ways to help people learn, particularly those who are thought to be leaders.
Last year when I was in India, I talked with the software folks at NIIT, an educational organization that teaches business courses nationwide. NIIT also was the founder of India Quality Ltd., which is licensed to present the Quality College material, and the India Quality Management Foundation, which works with educational institutions to reach children of all ages. I am the nonexecutive chairman of the IQMF. As part of this, I wrote a story about the eighth grade and quality management. Now I find that it has been “Indianized” and distributed to more than a million children.
The software people of NIIT thought that an interactive CD-ROM would be a good way for those who were interested in leadership to learn. I suggested that we put one together with the goal of helping thought leaders become "useful and reliable" because those are the people who create reliable organizations.
The next thing I knew two NIIT staff members appeared at our summer home in Highlands, North Carolina, ready to begin laying out the project. We devoted a week to working hard on the project, and then I spent the rest of the summer writing. It was more than a book.
They put it all together, and we communicated daily via e-mail. Last November I returned to India, and we filmed sessions where I pop out to answer questions or explain something. When the material was together, they sent the CD-ROM all over the world for comments, took them seriously, and today we have the finished product.
The CD-ROM uses a mountain-climbing expedition as an analogy. A pictorial map shows the mountain, along with a cast of climbers and their conversations. The user is invited to begin with the base camp labeled "Agenda" and participate in the discussion. We are talking about both personal and organizational agendas in this base. The student uses a workbook to personalize all this.
The second camp is Personal Philosophy, with separate tents for Finance, Quality and Relationships. The third camp is Building Enduring Relationships; the fourth is Being Worldly.
Then comes a place for a personal test called: Who am I? After that we reach the summit known as Reliable Organization.
In order to provide a case history showing the application of these concepts and the information, the CD-ROM includes my autobiography, covering 44 years broken down into four-year segments. The beginning of each segment displays the events of that period, plus what I think I learned. The information shows how my personal agenda enabled me to go from working on an assembly line to becoming a corporate vice president 13 years later, and then going on to found a multimillion-dollar corporation. There is no mystery here, just thinking out a plan, following it and being recognized as "useful and reliable." Even those who disagree with me will admit that I am useful and reliable.
The package comes with four workbooks so that it can be shared with co-workers. The study group must enter a security code so the disc doesn’t disappear now and then. The CD-ROM, with the four workbooks, sells for less than $500. The best part of this effort, although it took a long time and much real work, is that it actually works.
It also shows that a worldly outlook can produce results.
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