Rope Suppliers

By Ron Pereira Updated on January 13th, 2011

J Thatcher recently asked:

Here’s a question:

If the student becomes the initiation point for “pull” learning, how does the instructor continue to “push” students beyond what they believed themselves capable? (And yes, I’m using “push” differently there)

rope.jpgThis is not an easy question to answer and one I have spent several hours thinking about.  This type of question relates to  teaching kids for sure.  But it also relates to us grown ups who work in factories, hospitals, and board rooms. 

We too can initiate pull learning but how do we keep motivated to continue the journey?  How does our “instructor” or boss or board of directors continue to push us?

Understanding Current State

Well if I think about my kids and how my wife and I are trying to “push” them as they pull at their own speed I realize that one thing we are constantly doing is understanding where they are.  While my daughter may be excelling in one area my wife knows about it.  And she is preparing the next lesson accordingly.

So, while my little girl is able to pull at her own speed my wife and I are right there making sure she doesn’t actually run out of rope.  So, you could say we are rope suppliers in a peculiar kind of way. 

Likewise, if we see our child struggling with the rope we engage and help her pull a little.  Then, as she regains her momentum we back off and resume our rope supplier role.

Same thing for us Grown-ups

It’s the same thing in the corporate world if you think about it.  A good leader is one who recognizes the current state of affairs by going to see what is happening on the gemba (genchi genbutsu).  They know where the organization’s strengths and weaknesses are.  And they engage and help pull the rope when required (kaizen).

But more times than not these leaders are looking ahead to ensure their team of motivated and pulling employees never run out of rope to pull (hoshin kanri).  In short, they are rope suppliers too.

Anyhow, that’s my two cents on it.  What do you think? 

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  1. Tom Peterson

    January 28, 2008 - 9:59 pm

    Ron, awesome analogy. GReat post.

  2. Matt Meyers

    January 29, 2008 - 11:37 pm

    push, pull, education. I find it interesting when I see people trying to apply a theory beyond its original intended application. I guess when you have a hammer, you start looking for nails.

    As for education (or anything for that matter), whether pushed or pulled, customer satisfaction should be the guiding principle. If the customers pull the education, then you should exceed their expectations. Give them more than they pulled. Always provide them some of the information required to take the next step, and then hope they’ll pull again. Sort of like, well, making sure the rope doesn’t run out.

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