Can dreams teach you? Gergely Szertics had a dream. Gergely lives in Budapest but his dreams are global. He dreamed of building a means for people to share their successes and failures in a way that was efficient and useful to others all at the same time. Efficient, useful, and – oh, and did I say – broadly accessible online? He dreamed of creating a reservoir for these stories so that anyone could draw up ideas by asking and discover synergies in the process. He dreamed that the ideas stored away could surface when needed, offering anyone to quench their thirst for new insights on an issue, new ideas for familiar problems, inspiration. Don’t let my description make you think it has been done before. Gergely’s vision has subtleties that I have not explained and will not try to. But that was last year, and this year he is much closer to his dream – which he now calls Analogy Dialogue. (http://analogydialogue.com) What I want to share with you here is his story of how he worked to gather the information and knowledge to ground his dream so it could become reality.
Gergely (pronounced Gergay) knew that he needed insights from many disciplines. He knew he needed to create a forum where ideas and information could be explored in the company of great minds. (Does that sound like something you would like, too?) He sought out colleagues who listened to his dream, enhanced it through their own perspectives, and embraced the enlarged dream becoming a dream of all of them.
He created a forum where these colleagues could come and talk about their own areas of expertise, report on the most recent writings from that field, and then join in a conversation with the others to explore the insights gained. Gergely was always a part of those meetings, presenting from his area of expertise, listening earnestly, joining the conversation, asking questions that came to mind, and always relating it back to the dream. Here are the steps that define how to create such a powerful learning machine for your dreams.
(1) Define a clear goal. Gergely defined his dream so clearly and in a way that an R&D company saw benefit in the results and was willing to invest in exploring the issues.
(2) Have a benefit for each member. Each member of the group was approached so that they could embrace the dream for themselves. They understood from the outset that the primary benefit was enhanced understanding from seeing the latest thinking in fields outside their own with time to explore the linkages among and between them. Any life long learner would find this enormously enticing. For those who need a business reason, Gergely offered shared authorship of an essay written for the R&D company.
(3) Dig deep. Only when each area of expertise is plumbed deeply can the linkages with other disciplines be found. Summarizations from current readings were used to kick off the meeting, followed by lots of time to explore the meanings together.
(4) Find resources to support the contributors. When the experts were able to get help to research current readings and summarize them, this opened up time for exploring the meaning of them. This step sometimes calls upon real creativity. For example, if you plan enough in advance, you can arrange that some of this ‘desk research’ can be done by students as part of their studies.
(5) Meet regularly. Gergely set up weekly sessions of 1.5 to 2 hours in length where the experts could listen to the summaries presented and then dive in to find the ‘gold’ together. The regularity allowed for lessons from one session to be remembered into the next, enriching the discussion further.
I really loved this story, because it demonstrates the power of learning in context. Gergely’s reason became the context in which he was learning. Each participant in the meetings had a different context, but there was an overriding context of their dream – a real problem that exists in the world – making it fun to solve together. Every piece of information and insight gathered could immediately relate to the issues that needed to be resolved to pursue this dream.
Have you defined the context for your own learning? Is it big enough to draw in other experts to join in your learning? How have you solved a dream problem?