The Learning Spiral

Prototype Of Man

[Tweet “… you are now working at a higher level.”]

I’ve worked in a lot of types of offices and technical environments over the years.

Something I’ve always tuned into is whether it is a “big” environment – one where I am a fairly small cog in the machine and have a lot of folks around me to depend on for working on hard problems together – or, whether it is a “small” environment – one where I’m basically responsible for everything that plugs into a wall socket. (Yes, including the coffee maker. :-))

Both types of environments have their advantages, as far as career development.

In the big places you can seek out and learn from the best technologists in the organization. But you don’t get to branch out much.

In the small places you get more challenges to push yourself into new areas of learning, because you’re sort of on your own. And you have a chance to go wherever your motivations take you.

But common to both sorts of environments is something I call the “learning spiral.”

This is that process through which you see a problem, don’t quite know how to solve it (but you make a dent in it somehow), you move on to other problems (with the benefit of what you learned from that previous really hard problem), and eventually you come back to that first hard problem.

But when you get back there, you are now working at a higher level.

You have more experience, you’ve seen more, and you get a crack at solving that hard problem with better tools at your disposal. Sometimes it works out this time around, sometimes it takes a few more turns around the spiral before you quite get it.

The great thing is, all along the way you are learning…

… solving…

… growing…

… going higher…

… moving, and…

… seeing all there is to see. 🙂