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Doing it Wrong

Individual Learning Method: Studying the Finished Work of Others

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Many art students learn by studying and copying the art pieces of famous artists. Only when an art student has achieved a standard of proficiency, can he venture off on his own.

Like an art student, you too can learn by studying the finished work of others. The finished work provides you with a benchmark of the quality your work can achieve. It is also a sample that you can constantly refer to when you pick up your new skill.

This technique is often used when making products. However, you can also use it in a typical office environment.

The focus of this workplace learning method is to give you a few tips on what you can do when you decide to use this technique in the office environment.

Here are some tips that will help you learn by studying the finished work of others:

  1. Be clear about the skill you want to learn
  2. Analyse the finished work for what’s good and what can be further improved
  3. Build on what has already been done well
  4. Think about what you would do to achieve a similar outcome (do not copy blindly!)
  5. Contextualize your own attempt to suit your requirements
  6. Compare your work against the finished work for further improvements

  1. Organisation / management
    • Create a database of finished work (e.g. exemplars of well-written reports, display of finished products with excellent workmanship) to make it easy for novices to access, examine learn from
    • Overtly encourage leveraging on others’ good work for improvement

  2. Workplace ‘trainer’
    • Provide good and bad finished work for your employees to study

    • Ensure that your employees know what areas of the finished work is worth learning from

    • Encourage your employee to improve on the existing quality

  3. Workplace ‘learner’
    • Study both good and bad finished work of others to have a better understanding of the quality you should achieve
    • Do not pass on someone’s work/ideas as your own
    • Be curious about the process needed to complete the piece of work
    • Bounce off new ideas with experts to improve on the finished product with experts