Monday, January 20, 2014

More on cheating as learning #rhizo14

I mentioned the other day that I've been pondering how the notion of "cheating as learning" may apply to business and recreational pursuits. And while I'm still not entirely sure how the notion relates to each environment, I'm hoping you'll bear with me as I attempt to "talk it out" in this space (and please do comment/cajole/deride as you see fit ;-)

Following on Peter's post on "breaking away" from the rules, rather than contravening a particular rule itself, I think there's benefit in an exploring rules, or current standard operating procedures, with an eye to improving performance, increasing safety, or working toward whatever a particular desired outcome may be. Too often we fall into the trap of "we've always done it that way" without critical assessment of how me might do a better job of leveraging available resources to perform a task, or ensure an outcome.

In our breakout discussion during the unhangout, Jim Stauffer mentioned that we'd do well to focus on goals, rather than rules, and that it can't be considered cheating if one is focusing on, and working toward, a particular goal. If rules preclude me from attaining my goals, do I have an option other than "cheating" to attain my goal?

In the business world, instructional designers and training developers develop documents called "cheatsheets" which are used as performance improvement tools and provide "just in time" quick reference for those charged with completing a task, or operating a software application. In this instance, the "cheating" being done amounts to referring to a one-page document, rather than having to locate a reference to the specific procedure or task in an owner's or operator's manual. Keyboard shortcuts and data entry codes are also referred to as "cheats" in some software applications. 

Workarounds (a circumvention of the way you're supposed to do something might also be referred to as a "cheat") are a big part of getting stuff done in business environments--especially those with a variety of software applications, operating systems, and connection speeds. One size most definitely does not fit all, and accommodations have to be made, for differences in technical acumen, connection speeds and operating systems. 

In the recreational world (and particularly ski resorts) "cheating" can take a number of forms. For instance in the past couple of weeks, skiers have "cheated" the boundary of the ski area in search of untracked power snow and have found themselves stranded and in need of rescue by Park Wardens slung under helicopters. I'm not sure what's been learned by those requiring rescue. Maybe they learned that the pursuit of fresh tracks in powder snow isn't worth risking your life (or endangering those charged with effecting your rescue)--one can only hope.

In an attempt to bring this stream of consciousness to a close I'd say that I "cheating" as an accepted practice provided it serves larger or ultimate goals, is in keeping with the spirit of how one sees one's role in an organization, and doesn't impune the interests, or safety, of others. 


Jaap said...

Hi, your text is about being responsible for what one does. Good performance is better than follow the rules. In business this principle of performance over rules is normal, in education rules often are very important. Your post is important to teachers in my view.
Good of you to publish your text.

dougsymington said...

Thanks Jaap, I appreciate your comment and often find myself comparing/contrasting corporate and formal educational environments and find value in this exercise. Thanks too for your encouragement to publish this post.