Learning Curves

Improving Efficiency Through Faster Learning

Learning Curves - Improving Efficiency Through Faster Learning

© Getty Images
Oleksii Glushenkov

Help your learners to go with the flow!

Think back to a time when you had to learn a new skill. Maybe you were put in charge of a new or different part of the production process. Or perhaps the computer system you'd become comfortable with was suddenly replaced. Remember how tough it all felt at the start?

But a few months down the line, you were probably so confident that you wondered why you ever struggled in the first place!

There's an explanation for this: you're benefiting from your journey on a "learning curve." When your performance improves with experience, and it takes less time and effort to complete a task after you've done it for a while, that's a learning curve in action.

In this article, we'll explore how learning curves can help you and your organization to plan, support, and evaluate learning. Also, we'll examine how they can be used to help your people to learn faster, and to cope with change.

The Origins of Learning Curves

Learning curves were first described in research by aeronautical engineer T. P. Wright in 1936. He was studying how long it took to produce airplane parts. As workers gained experience, Wright saw that they were able to produce the parts faster. Efficiency improved – up to a point.

Eventually, the speed of improvement slowed. When the time savings flattened out, the learning was "complete."

Wright showed that this process could be illustrated on a graph, providing some valuable predictions about learning and its impact on business.

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