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Learning how to cope with challenging times

egg cracking open with light coming from inside it

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary learning and extraordinary thought. We are all on an accelerated learning curve just trying to cope with what's going on around us every day.

At the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, June 6th, 2020 we will explore societal and global solutions to the problems we are all facing. Are there models that have worked, to overcome the types of society-wide challenges we face? Are there methods of thinking that can help us bring in new solutions, not only to new pandemic problems (like Coronavirus) but to old endemic ones (like racism)?

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Click on the green button to register for the meeting.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


 We need systems of healthcare, food distribution, financial wellbeing, education, housing, justice, and all other aspects of life, that honor the needs, the rights, and the inherent nobility of every member of society.

We need to let go of old ways of being and doing things that do not work, and that impact us all in negative ways.

Here's a summary of our work in the community meetings over the past several months.

(Click on the screenshots of the Trello boards to enlarge).

1) We used the structure of a mindset change course to brainstorm how to survive and thrive under challenging conditions


trello mindset course screenshot


We discovered that while mindset change is important, it's not ENOUGH to help us cope. 

2) We then explored using the structure of  a "how-to" course, to see if what we need to do is develop new skills 


Would learning new skills be the answer to surviving and thriving under conditions of uncertainty? We discovered that the answer was, once again, no.


We might indeed need to develop new skills. But skills alone are not enough to get us through.


Like having the right mindset, learning new skills might be PART of a strategy we can use to survive and thrive, but they are not the WHOLE strategy.

3) We realized that what is needed is a COGNITIVE STRATEGY.


trello questions screenshot

We needed to find ways to LEARN HOW TO LEARN about what will help us survive and thrive in these unprecedented times. Having the right mindset, and learning new skills, are important PARTS of the cognitive strategy. But we also need more: we need to learn new ways of thinking.

Community members generously shared their expertise about complex ways of thinking, such as mind-mapping, the Cynefin Framework, and Systems Theory. We explored ways of holding different (and sometimes opposing) ideas in relationship to each other. 
We related these ideas to our own experiences of life under  current conditions on all levels, from the personal to the communal to the global.

The result is  a collaboratively-developed cognitive strategy we are working on to empower ourselves and each other to find ways to fulfill our business missions under conditions of uncertainty, especially with respect to teaching online.

One of the highlights of the Saturday morning meetings has been hearing from members of the Learn and Get Smarter community about how they are adapting their products and services to meet the needs of their target audiences in these challenging times.

The creativity and innovation of this group is inspiring to us all!

cognitive strategies course screenshot

We are still exploring this process, especially on the societal and global scales. As societies struggle to reinvent themselves in ways that work better for all their members, we can look for role models that have worked effectively to overcome large scale challenges. For example, we can explore the methods South Korea used to contain the pandemic, and the methods South Africa used to democratize their social structure despite a history of racial oppression and inequality. 

Group of Multiethnic Diverse World People

As a leading-edge thought leader committed to teaching online in transformational ways,  you are a different kind of front-line worker. You are at the forefront of helping people learn and get smarter online, and my mission is to provide products and services that help you do that.  

Come to the community meeting on Saturday June 6th as we explore social and global systems that might work better than those that are crumbling around us now.  

And keep in mind that if you'd like to make this the summer you get your transformational course online to support the people you are here to serve, the Course Design Formula® Master Course starts June 16th. Write to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com if you would like to learn more.

It’s Complicated

Set of icons vector development, simple and complex way of development, optimization of the process, complex and simple

Most of us, I think, would agree that the current situation can best be defined as a "hot mess".

But what KIND of a hot mess? Are we living in complete chaos?

It certainly feels that way at times...yet as our discussions at the weekly Learn and Get Smarter community meetings show, many of us are starting to find our way out of the initial chaos the pandemic has caused literally every single person on the face of the earth.

We've been sharing coping strategies, serendipitous discoveries, and powerful pivots that have forced us all to engage in learning opportunities we never would have otherwise considered.

(Yours truly, for example, is learning how to unclog  a sink drain. Which for anyone who has ever known me, is truly mind-boggling).

Learning is the process of adapting to one's environment in ways that promote survival, and the Covid19 pandemic is probably the most challenging learning situation our planet has faced, ever.

Coping effectively is literally a matter of life and death on every level, from the physical to the financial to the societal. 

But what, exactly, are we coping with? Is it in fact chaos?

At last Saturday's community meeting Janice Fingler ​ treated us to a  presentation on the Cynefin framework, originated by Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge.

Janice shared her in-depth expertise on dealing with extreme uncertainty in high-stakes situations. 

To learn more about Janice's fascinating work, visit her website at https://jfingler.com/.  Although initially targeted towards project managers in the mining industry, Janice is now opening up her services to help experts in other fields grow their readiness to respond to changing risk.

She does that by deploying the strategies and approaches used by gold explorers...these strategies help anyone living "in the wilds" (as we all are, these days)  make more confident decisions.

 She has graciously allowed me to share the following example illustration of some aspects of the Cynefin framework, that she created for the meeting, with all of us:

A diagram of the Cynefin Framework

Janice explained that conditions of chaos tend to be unstable and don't last long, modulating into systems that are either complex, complicated, or clear and obvious.  

In the wake of the initial chaos caused by the pandemic, many things that once seemed clear and obvious no longer do. 

It seemed like we had stability in clear and obvious routines, supply chains, systems, and ways of doing things. But we’re finding that many no longer work, no longer serve us, or no longer even exist following the blast of chaos the pandemic produced.

As we emerge from chaos, many of us are now experiencing the world around us as complex. We are working hard on finding ways to create new levels of order that include the types of complicated structures needed to facilitate problem solving under conditions of uncertainty and risk.

The journey towards order, that we crave as humans, isn’t so simple and direct now. The challenge of Covid19 has actually given us a gift, of teaching us that we need to embrace the disordered, non-linear and unpredictable world we actually live in and will continue to live in – rather than the more simplistic and straightforward "reality" we thought we lived in.   

We then talked about family-level solutions we are exploring in our own lives, whether for taking care of the very young, the very old, or finding new ways to work while also restructuring family interactions.

Some questions we asked include:

  • How can we take care of our own needs while also taking care of others?
  • How can we  start implementing systems that deal with the new demands, and also protect our work space and time?
  • Is there any way we can outsource some of the work?
  • Are there ways in which this new reality is GOOD for our business?
  • If so what are those ways and how can we optimize them?

We'll explore that last question in depth at next week's community meeting.

Come share YOUR insights and expertise as we continue to reflect on cognitive strategies we can apply to help us learn and get smarter in the face of uncertainty and risk.

The Cynefin framework is certainly a powerful  tool for doing that, and Janice's presentation deepened our ability to think outside the box in these uncertain times, helping us move closer to turning challenges into opportunities.

Join us on Saturday, May 16th, 2020


9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern


Join us at next week's community meeting to continue the conversation!

many people online in a conference call

Novel Solutions to a Novel Crisis

Person enjoying online group cal from home

What do you do in a totally unprecedented situation, when there are no answers?

One thing you can do when you don't yet have answers is focus on asking more effective questions.

Another thing to do is to reach out to others to create communities and networks that can provide resources, guidance, and support.

None of us has all the answers, but together, we can move closer to asking the right questions.

That's what our Learn and Get Smarter community has been doing for the past several weeks, and our collective efforts have been yielding powerful results.

At last Saturday's Learn and Get Smarter community meeting we put together our work from earlier meetings to set up a cognitive strategies ("learning how to learn") course.

We decided to call the course

"Novel Solutions to a Novel Crisis."

cognitive strategies course screenshot

Individually and collectively, we were impressed with what we came up with as a group, because none of us alone could have created what we all created together.

I want to extend a very special thank you to everyone who has been part of this process. If you haven't been able to participate so far, come next time and contribute your ideas!

At next week's community meeting we will start to plan and develop the media needed to build the course (media such as PDFs, Word Docs,  interactive elearning activities, and PowerPoints.) 

I hope you can join us to add your wisdom, insights, and perspective!

Join us on Saturday

many people online in a conference call

We'll start planning and developing our actual course media!

To develop the course content, we'll draw on the question banks we came up with in previous weeks, relating to attitude adjustments, practical skills, and learning strategies that can help us cope with this unprecedented situation.

  • Attitude questions

  • skills questions

  • Learning questions

What mindset changes do we need to make?

After exploring helpful mindset adjustments we can make, we realized that mindset change is only PART of what we need to focus on. We decided that our course will not be a mindset course, but it may have some mindset change components in it.

trello mindset course screenshot

The process we are using to develop this "crowdsourced" learning experience, differs in important ways from the process you would use to create your own individual course in your own area of expertise.

The pandemic is an area in which none of us has expertise. Even the experts in global health don't yet have the full range of expertise needed to handle such an unprecedented situation effectively. We are all participants in a global learning experience in which the stakes are as high as they can possibly be, for everyone involved.

Learning is always about adapting to one's environment in ways that promote survival. But the stakes are not usually as clear and as stark as they are now.

As experts in our own fields who are interested in developing transformative online courses, the pandemic provides an opportunity to learn about learning itself (and online learning in particular) in ways we have never seen before.

In your own area of expertise, you can use the Course Design Formula® as a set of guidelines to structure your extensive prior knowledge in ways that help people benefit from what you already know.

But when, as in this situation, no one yet has the right expertise, we must instead rely on unguided discovery learning

We are feeling our way in the dark, and finding out where the limits and edges are by running into them. Working together as a community, we can find those edges faster and bring our collective wisdom and energy to bear on a problem that impacts us all.

Join us next Saturday

to continue this journey of exploration!

Developing a cognitive strategies course

People untangling a ball of yarn together

At last Saturday's community meeting, we discussed the questions can we ask ourselves, that will help us survive and thrive under all conditions, and especially, the conditions we are all dealing with now in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.

We decided to use the questions we came up with, to develop a sample cognitive strategies ("learning how to learn") course as a group. That's what we will work on at next week's community meeting.
 

With profound thanks to everyone who attended for their participation and insightful contributions, here are some of the important questions we came up with as a group:

  •  How can we have  balanced healthy lives under any conditions?
  • How can we have thriving businesses that support our lives in a way that is balanced?
  •  How can we allow equal time for ourselves and the people that we're here to serve?

We decided that we will now ask ourselves the following powerful question:

How does my mission continually align with my clients’ desires and what they are willing to pay for? 

How do I ensure this going forward under all conditions?

Finding effective answers to such questions, especially under conditions of uncertainty such as we are facing now, is not an easy task. This is deep work, the work of learning at the most fundamental level.

(Remember that learning means adapting to conditions in ways that promote and optimize well-being and survival).

The stakes are very high: for ourselves, our families, our communities, and the planet as a whole.

Come help us develop effective learning strategies that can help us find answers to these and other important questions.

Join us next Saturday!

many people online in a conference call

We will start to actually BUILD our group

 cognitive strategy ("learning how to learn") course


In a complex and unprecedented situation where no one has all the answers (or sometimes, ANY answers), working collectively can help us find solutions we would not have been able to find on our own.

I'm creating a Google doc with the questions we came up with at last week's meeting, and will share it via email with those on the Learn and Get Smarter email list. We can keep adding questions to consider, as we think of them.

You may enjoy this enlightening article from Harvard Business Review, on how businesses can approach decision making when faced with complex, unpredictable, and unprecedented systems.

People untangling a ball of yarn together

For the next few days, think about  questions to ask yourself in YOUR business, that will help you adapt to a complex and unpredictable environment.

Then come join us next Saturday as we start exploring answers in the form of a cognitive strategies course we can create together!

Developing strategies to learn how to survive and thrive

A group of people helping each other survive and thrive

At our community meeting last week, we used the structure of a "how to" course to think about how to survive and thrive under conditions of extreme uncertainty, specifically, the current conditions due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

We decided that the "target audience" for the course we are creating together, will be us, ourselves... this Learn and Get Smarter community of experts and entrepreneurs who are focused on creating quality online courses.

Since we are designing the course for ourselves, we will be able to test its usefulness to us, once we have it developed.

At next week's meeting (on Saturday, April 18th, at 9 AM Pacific/ 12 noon Eastern) we will put the work we've done over the past two weeks together, to create a cognitive strategy course.  The learning goal for the course will be to help us think about what we need to learn (and how best to learn it) in order to cope with the current pandemic on all levels of our lives and society.

We decided to focus on using Maslow's hierarchy of needs as an organizing framework for thinking about how to survive and thrive at each level.

If you have my book, you can read about how to structure a cognitive strategy course on pages 156-157 of the paperback.

During the meeting, we will use the work we've done over the past several weeks, to figure out what the cognitive strategy (or strategies) should be. We've looked at both mindset changes and practical skills that will be helpful.... now it's time to put this all together in an effective and engaging way.

Come join us next Saturday!

many people online in a conference call

We will design a

 cognitive strategy ("learning how to learn") course

for adapting to change

 in the face of the current pandemic.

As these meetings evolve, my goal is to help you understand the different types of course design structures you can use to support different types of learning.

As a community, we are gaining hands-on practice and experience in building something new together, from the ground up.

When you design a course in your own area of expertise, you are, by definition, an expert.

The Course Design Formula® can help you overcome the "expert blind spot" that makes it hard for experts to see what non-experts (your future course participants) must understand in order to benefit from participating in your course.

During our Saturday community meetings, we are using aspects of the Course Design Formula® in a different way, though. 

In this case, we are dealing with a situation where no one in the world yet has the expertise fully needed to deal with a novel and unprecedented situation. We are living in what I refer to as the "fractal zone"...an area of swirling chaos and uncertainty, that is part and parcel of chaos theory.

In fact, chaos theory may be a useful organizing principle to help us think about these chaotic conditions and uncertain times.

Abstract Living Coral Reef Colorful Sea Swirl Spiral Pattern Trendy Colors Bright Pastel Orange Teal Light Blue Fractal Fine Art Nautilus Sea Shell

This Saturday, we will work on developing cognitive strategies for dealing with the uncertainty and risk inherent in chaos. Our goal is to optimize our own and each others' abilities to survive and thrive in unpredictable complex conditions.

Come join in the conversation and share in the synergy!