Learning by Teaching
The old saying goes, “Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.” Nonsense. In an effective team, not only is everyone constantly learning, but they are all teaching as well. It saves time and money and actually helps people learn more thoroughly.
Teaching Forces Deep Learning
If you've ever had an experience of teaching something, you'll probably recognize that few things better help you understand the topic. In searching for an explanation, you revisit the basics and look at the rationale for approaching things a certain way. That allows you to re-examine what you do and, in the process, notice where your own practice falls short of the ideal. To teach another is to force yourself to become conscious of what you do and to understand why you do it. Also, instead of being satisfied with your own understanding of a subject, teaching forces you to look for new explanations, metaphors, and descriptions, all of which become part of your own learning process.
Importance of Teaching
You want everyone on your team to teach. You get the benefit of deepening the experience of members as they explain topics to others. But that's not the only payoff. Encouraging teaching among team members is a wonderful way to make more efficient use of your intellectual resources and to minimize the impact that continued learning has on your budget.
If you see the need for a training program, consider whether you can send a few people through the sessions and then have them teach others. In one stroke, you increase the impact of the training on the original group and reduce the cost of formal education programs, which charge by the student. Each person on the team can have the task to teach at least one other, expanding the teaching impact. When you get to the last person or two, have them teach people who join the team. That way you establish a continuing chain of teaching.
Implementing learning inside your team isn't only about acquiring new skills and knowledge. It's also about using the ones you already have. Give people an opportunity to share what they know and gain insight from each other.