I've been listening to a series on Jazz from iTunes University. It's been interesting because they talk about a topic and then play some examples of what they're talking about. It makes it easier to understand the difference between Hard Bop and Modal when you are listening to the styles as they're discussed. Even then, I don't think you really learn Jazz until you pick up an instrument and start playing.
This got me thinking about how people learn. I often go to Wikipedia to look up some fact. This is often the case when I'm researching an article that I'm writing. As helpful as Wikipedia is, it's not a place where someone can learn a skill.
I'm starting an engagement in which I'm playing the role of mentor. I'll provide the client some basic knowledge about running agile projects, the kind of stuff you might find in Wikipedia or a good book on the topic. But then I'll observe and provide coaching. I'll share experiences from my past that are relevant. At this point it is a true learning experience.
Passing a certification exam doesn't mean we have the experience to perform a job, it means we have the knowledge. It is by applying the knowledge that we gain the experience. Sometimes we have the ability to try a new technique in the office and see how it works, sometimes a new skill is forced upon us, and sometimes we need to seek help from a coach or mentor.
As this year draws to an end, think about the skills you've developed and the experiences you've had. Has it been enough? Are starting to think about what skills you want to build next year?