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How to Learn

Listen to Alex discuss how to learn.
I thought we’d take a pause and talk about how you’re doing. Now, because of the incredible things that can happen, there’s this idea that software is magic, that innovation is magic. In a sense that’s true, incredible things can and do happen. In another sense, it’s not true at all, because that magic, those incredible outcomes, come from the work of individual people. And the real story behind those outcomes usually has a lot more to do with hard work, persistence, and a disciplined approach than it has to do with any epiphanies or anything miraculous. And so I’m here to tell you that you can generate those outcomes. You can build fantastic software that users love.
The only thing you have to be ready to do is to try new ways of working. It’s a fair amount of work. And what we’ve heard from learners about the courses is that it’s a lot of work, but it really has changed the way they do things and the outcomes they’re getting with their teams. There’s a version, even kind of a perversion of Agile that says, hey, just memorize the rules of this methodology, follow them exactly, and there’s your Agile. And it’s not that hard to do that, and there’s a definite ending, and you can call it done.
And so that it naturally creates this kind of gravity and temptation to say, look, I did the Agile, we’re doing Agile, the Agile’s okay. But making great software and cultivating great teams is an ongoing process that everyone gets better at as they go along and it takes constant diligence. There’s no single solution for it. The one constant is that everyone has to be interested in learning and they have to be interested in trying new ways of working that at least look promising as a thing to try out to reach a better outcome. And then there’s actually a scientific basis for this when it comes to the individual.
In the teaching and learning world, there’s a lot of interesting research now around this idea of neuro-plasticity, if you will. And I won’t bore you with the details, but one essential conclusion of this research is that with very few exceptions for acute learning disabilities, everyone is capable of achieving at the very highest levels. And in K-12, for example, countries that believe this about their students, like Japan, consistently achieve better outcomes in specific areas, like math, than countries that are generally less inclined to this view, like the US and the UK. And the neurons in your brain, they’re constantly creating new pathways. It’s happening to you right now.
And they can do that a lot or they can do that a little, depending on how willing you are to push yourself to try and learn new things. And that’s what’s really fascinating about this research, and the things that the teaching community’s learning from it. If it feels like a stretch, just know that you’re not only improving your understanding of Agile and your ability to practice it, but also your fundamental ability to learn and be creative and to try new things. And as you put this material into practice and apply these methods to developing software, that very same thing is true.
So I just thought we’d take a break and kind of reflect on how you’re feeling, and why you’re doing this and why it might be important to you. Let’s get back to it.

In this video, Alex emphasizes that we have the capability to generate successful outcomes. While watching this video, think about ways that you can push yourself to improve your ability to practice agile. Share your thoughts in the comments section and read other learners’ contributions.

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Getting Started with Agile and Design Thinking

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