Because without the how, you diminish the what.

I love the drums and the drummer Neil Peart.

What do you do when you’re one of the best drummers in the world? Do you just put your musical chops on cruise control and play the same way over and over again?

No, you push yourself and look for tools, resources and training that add depth and diversity to your playing. You strive for continued excellence and elegance.

That’s exactly what Neil Peart did.

In 1994, Peart became a friend and pupil of jazz instructor Freddie Gruber. It was during this time that Peart decided to revamp his playing style by incorporating jazz and swing components.

Here’s some of Freddie’s advice:

“How you do what you do is almost as important as what you do. Because without the how, you diminish the what.”


If only all our top performers sought out their own training and development, their quest to be better. I’m sure some of them do, but the old push model of “one training program fits all” just doesn’t cut it any more in this constantly changing world and endless streams of information.

Organizations need a much more flexible and adaptable model for their entire workforce, like an on-demand, guided and self-guided methods of on-the-job training.

This includes helping and encouraging employees (and leaders) to identify their own tools and resources they feel would better improve their capabilities as well as enhance their roles and responsibilities, all the while ensuring there is alignment between individual, department, organization and overall growth. Some of this training could also come from informal learning networks outside of the company.

Consider the article from the latest Chief Learning Officer titled Better Together: Moving From Push to Pull Learning.

In a pull platform, talent development emphasizes on-the-job learning and informal structures rather than a formal training program.

Pull learning gives people the ability to confront challenges and draw out the resources needed to develop solutions.

In addition to developing learning platforms that enable flexible learning, moving to a pull mindset requires redefining leadership.

In a push world, leadership means developing a program and enlisting others to follow it.

Drum roll, please.

In a world of pull, it’s about helping people to develop the capabilities to become leaders in their own context so when they’re confronting an unexpected challenge they have the initiative and the questing disposition that will make them want to embrace that challenge and find creative ways of overcoming it and addressing it, and in the process learning from that experience.

Queue the crash symbol.

I’ve always been a big proponent of pull learning but also realize in my experience that it’s been easier to pull off in smaller organizations in the early stages.

But as the article states, the long-term decline of return on assets for public companies in the U.S. Since 1965, down 75 percent and showing no sign of stabilizing, let alone turning around, the traditional investments in push corporate training are bleeding more than ever these days.

Or are they? Many more enterprises today are becoming more flexible and fluid with their formal and informal learning programs. Maybe todays transformation is a combination of various learning streams — push and pull — internal and external — all the while the evolution is rapid and ever-changing.

Regardless, the need for quality training remains. Because without the how, you diminish the what.

Instill the quest to be better in all your employees and leadership.


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