“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” ~ Abigail Adams[i]
Admit it, you have been tempted to turn to the last page of a murder mystery to find out who did it, or to ask your friend how that hot new movie ends. It’s human nature to be inquisitive and to want to know something right now. You are interested in the ending—to know what is not known and how it all turns out—and you want to get there now. However, there is a developed plot that is followed—leading you, the viewer, through a planned process of discovery of the facts. Some of the facts are not known early on, which allows the movie to have a great ending when it all works out.
The same thing happens as a busy professional; you want to finish a project as quickly as possible. But, there is a key difference between a great mystery or movie and running a business. Knowing the end of a good mystery or movie could lessen the enjoyment because it spoils all the twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the plot; whereas, understanding the end of a business project can provide context to the information required and resulting decisions made during the project. In other words, if you understand what you are supposed to know at the end of the project, the challenges and opportunities you find along the way will make more sense.
“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” — African Proverb[ii]
Defined project learning outcomes are based on the most important takeaways from the project, those specific elements and knowledge required to make the best decision. The stated outcomes provide a focus on the critical knowledge needed throughout the process. It’s like being taken on a multi-day trip in a car. Once you learn the destination, all of those gas, food, and tourist stops each day make sense because they were on the route. Defining outcomes takes a conglomeration of seemingly random goals with difficult definitions, and turns them into a set of objectives that integrate and work with one another to guide research, competitive intelligence, analysis, and decision-making throughout the project. And, often, what we learn in one project sets us up for the next one, just like the destination of one day sets up the beginning of the next day’s journey.
[i] Nesvig, B. (2014, March 4). 35 inspiring quotes about learning. Retrieved from https://www.dashe.com/blog/motivation/inspiring-learning-quotes/