!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Scrutinizing a Master's Work

Monday, August 07, 2006

Scrutinizing a Master's Work

I had to make a 360-mile trip by car between Massachusetts and Maryland today, so I armed myself with eight more of my music history tapes and hit the road.

In the particular lectures I was listening to on my drive south, Bob Greenberg devoted considerable attention to J.S. Bach. The musical excerpts and explanations of Bach's work were a good antidote to the annoyance of running into several miles-long areas of congestion.

Aside from the beauty and fascination of the music itself, I was struck by Greenburg's account of how Bach learned to be a composer. One thing Bach did was copy out compositions of predecessors whose technique he wanted to understand in complete detail. Sometime earlier, I had read that Verdi did the same thing, and that the composer whose work he copied out was ... Bach.

I've tried to think what the closest analogue to this method of learning is for people in a business setting. It seems to me it's the analysis of case examples and the hands-on problem solving that people do in some types of training.

The important element in this learning method is having a proven master available — in documentary form, if not in the flesh — to present detailed examples of how to produce a particular type of work, whether it's computer software, a pre-call plan for a sales contact, learning to navigate a rich online performance support system, or whatever. The trainee dissects the examples in order to discover every detail of what the master craftsman did, and to understand as completely as possible the decisions the master made concerning what to do and what not to do.


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