Tied Together in Learning

Recently, we observed a ceremony that had some very special and specific meaning for us AND connected dots to some recent client experiences.

Aaron, one of our co-founders, was awarded his black belt in Tae Kwon Do, at the age of 13.

If you know someone that studies martial arts, you recognize that there is deep meaning in the whole process of getting to black belt. In Aaron’s experience, 3 1/2 years of patience, persistence, and perseverance to reach a goal. With much frustration, failure and pivots being necessary along the way.

After the testing and forms (kata) were completed, and the score tally sheets in, we observed the traditional ceremony between the master and the student. In the completion of the ceremony, as the student is instructed, he or she removes the previous colored belt, setting it beside themselves on the floor.

The Master Black Belt then demonstrates something very powerful.

The Master ties a brand new black belt around their waist, ensuring contact with their own belt, unties the belt, then immediately ties it on the student.

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The significance of that ceremony indicates a transfer of knowledge.

A transfer of knowledge that the student is now tied to the master, by what they have learned together. A transfer of knowledge, meaning that the student and teacher are now equals. Yes, the Master has a higher degree ranking and has studied longer, but student and master are equals in the eyes of the community.

Job well done to the student. Mission accomplished.  A specific and measurable goal achieved.  With benefit of rank over his peers. Now anyone, regardless of age, must refer to him as Mr. Washington if of a lower belt rank.

Now with the learning completed, and wearing the newly minted black belt, it is finished. All done. There is nothing more to do. Awesome and humbling at the same time.

The reality is, nice job…so far.

After 3 1/2 years of study, the student is now ready to begin the real learning of martial arts AND begin teaching others.

It is a similar process with the Systems Driven Leadership innovation education we deliver aptly named Innovation Engineering.

The innovation student has studied deep content on 48 skills related to innovation. They have persevered, cycled learnings, failed hundreds of times, pivoted as needed, and they continue to work diligently to complete the goal in front of them. The time to get the black belt is not as long as martial arts, it’s usually around 6 months or so.

As the students move through their innovation education, the progress we see is similar.

We see a flip of mindset with the student to understanding how they can apply the tools and learnings. First, on the inner work of leading themselves and building their confidence with repetition.  Then, applying the learnings to the outer work of their business to move the company forward.  Progressing each day to black belt.

We’ve witnessed this transition and beginning this transfer of knowledge with some brave and forward thinking clients.

Nice job…so far.

Now it’s time to make it real and teach others in the company.

We’ve watched clients first black belt candidates conduct education sessions with their own members of their internal team, with our team coaching along. It’s obvious how they will use what they learned and make things better for their teams and companies.

As an observer, you recognize that they will not need the close in support and help they did in the beginning. You recognize as the “master” teacher, your student will most likely surpass you in what they know, which by the way, is exactly what we set out to do when we started.

It’s an awesome thing to watch…and, very humbling at the same time.

You see the student accelerate beyond initial skills and building their own internal capabilities.

Now, just as the black belts in the dojo, we are tied together with our students in a common knowledge base and approach about Innovation and Long Term Growth.

In the most collaborative and positive environments, we learn just as much from our clients as we teach to them.

We become tied together with meaningful and unique skills which can be used to solve just about anything.

At The Innovation Garage® we help companies become more profitable. We build strategy. We build ideas and coach innovation capability of teams. We design products, services and supply chains. We guide leaders from startup to the Global Fortune 50 to intentionally self-disrupt their offerings and companies. We provide world-class education, tools, and technology on how to craft innovation operating systems focused on long-term profitable growth.