It’s been said that “information is power” and if that’s true, every company in the world must be a super-power! The Information Age is simply a norm these days, and there’s no limit to information on the net and in the cloud. But we must make sense of it all. “Big Data” is just one effort to deal with the colossal overload of information in (and between and around) our workplaces. The intention is to harness streaming, raw, and disparate data in ways that create insight and knowledge that makes a difference in some way. How do you get there? How do you make information and knowledge into actionable learning?

Change Your Brain

Your brain is a highly complex machine and uniquely yours so it’s a good idea to know a bit about how it operates. When you learn something (not just read a news story, browse the internet, or listen to a friend tell a story) you actually change your brain! Something new happens in the “thinking” part of your brain – not just the “feeling” part of your brain. But it’s often the feeling or emotion that initiates the learning. You know all too well how hard it is to learn something you don’t have the least bit of interest in – for some it may be math or spreadsheets, for others it may be cooking or golf. When you have the desire, however – the pathway to learning is faster, smoother, and more likely to result in a brain change and the ability to do something differently as a result.

If you are like most adults, you want to leverage your existing knowledge and experience as you learn new things. And while it might be fun to learn something simply for the sake of learning it, most people want to do something with what they learn – for example, appreciate a concert more fully, deal with difficult people more effectively, or manage stress in their lives. These are practical goals that require some amount of concentration, attention, and practice.

If you’re responsible for creating an environment for learning, selecting learning products and consultants, or simply engaging in a learning process on a personal level – remember that learning is a living process that is both an art and a science. While you may be turned on by the motivational, inspirational, or experiential quality aspects of learning – you’ll have to put some brain muscle into the process – remembering concepts, organizing ideas, practicing skills, and persisting through trials and errors.

Information is a powerful tool but only a human brain can turn that into knowledge, learning, and change. Relevant, creative, and engaging learning and development activities help make the “brain change.”

What learning activities do you use to help make the “brain changes” needed in your organization?