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Leaders are responsible for meeting their organisation’s goals by ensuring their team has the capabilities it needs to succeed. Managers are responsible for ensuring their reports continue to develop and improve. But how?

There are several, well-understood models for thinking about learning and skills: Bloom’s Taxonomy, ICAP, Affective Learning. But none of these models can tell you why we take lessons to drive a car, but read books and watch videos to learn a new programming language. Why do we look for years of professional experience in our job adverts, but consider our own side projects “a great way to learn”.

I’d like to speak about a new model for learning that will explain all of the above, and reframe the people and capabilities areas of your technology strategy.

The main point I want to make in this talk is that success is not reliably repeatable. As leaders, we can’t just unthinkingly repeat what worked for someone else, or what has worked for ourselves in the past - we have to make decisions that are right for our context: for our team size, our goals, our strengths and weaknesses, etc. However, all of our common models for learning are based around the idea of learning from success (masterclass from impressive leader X; 5 tips from success story Y). But if we agree that success is only repeatable in a functionally identical context, how do we learn to make better decisions to avoid that trap, and teach our development teams to make better decisions?

I’ll talk about some models for learning, and how to identify when each training method will fail; I’ll talk about how to learn better decision-making, by incorporating context into learning, and I’ll talk about how you can change your own learning, and your team’s learning, to include discussion of context.