As part of the team that introduces new systems and processes to business to drive efficiency, your gut instinct as a Systems leader may be to hurriedly introduce workflows that make others’ lives easier. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that different individuals, and certainly different teams, learn differently and when approaching a new strategy, this should be taken into account. Same thing goes for C-suite – when you’re presenting OKRs for the quarter or trying to convince your boss that you need a certain system or would like to hire a new teammate – it may be beneficial to consider their learning styles before presenting your case. 

Even within different departments, there may be different learning styles between colleagues – as well as a hybrid of learning styles preferred by each individual person – but it’s still helpful to consider the dynamic of the overall team and how they collectively tend to approach work before presenting them with your reasonings for using a system and/or how to use it. 

Overview of Learning Styles

According to Learning Styles Online, learning styles group common ways that people learn – and everyone has a mix of them. Some people may have a dominant learning style with supplementary methods, while others may use different styles under certain circumstances. However, there’s no right way to use them or a preferred mix you should have; people can use the learning styles in the ways that best suit them. 

Traditionally, schools have combined linguistic and logical learning styles with classroom and book-based teaching, much repetition, and exams for reinforcement. However, in 1983, Howard Gardner, American developmental psychologist and professor of cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, noted that “restricting educational programs to focusing on a preponderance of linguistic and mathematical intelligences minimizes the importance of other forms of knowing” and therefore, may prohibit people from learning about new subjects in the forms through which they could retain it best. He, consequently, identified seven intelligences or learning styles observed through years of experience in the field.

These styles include: 

  • Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding (or the awareness of oneself in space and having an organized knowledge of objects in relation to oneself in that given space).
  • Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sounds and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems (through which you could apply the logic).
  • Social (interpersonal): You prefer learning in groups or with other people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

By recognizing your own learning styles, you can recognize the techniques that best suit you and, through observation, create a learning environment and educational plans that best meet stakeholder or team needs.

The Importance of Learning Styles in Business Systems

Though the way you learn may not feel largely significant – especially in the moment – it does have a great impact. Your preferred learning styles or intelligences shape the way you learn, according to Learning Styles Online. It is through these methods that you retain knowledge and experiences – and it is through those experiences that you can perform work, make informed decisions that affect yourself and others, and design solutions that scale based on trends you’ve witnessed.

Without learning styles, you certainly can’t inform yourself of the best systems and processes to solve a specific business problem, which means you can’t inform your colleagues, which means there’s no impact on business and it ultimately suffers. That’s how important it is to consider your learning styles and those of others – the better you and your stakeholders can retain this information – through whichever hybrid learning technique is deemed best – the more efficient your team, department or business will be.

Parts of the Brain Where Learning Styles Are Active

Photo courtesy of QBI

According to Learn Styles Online, each learning style uses different parts of the brain. By involving more learning styles, we remember more of what we learn. Through brain imaging, it’s been discovered that key areas of the brain are responsible for each learning style, including:

  • Visual: The two occipital lobes at the back of the brain are responsible for vision. Both the occipital and parietal lobes manage spatial orientation.
  • Aural: The temporal lobe is involved in primary auditory perception, such as hearing, and holds the primary auditory cortex. The primary auditory cortex receives sensory information from the ears and secondary areas and processes the information into meaningful units such as speech and words. The right temporal lobe is especially important for music.
  • Verbal: This is overseen by the temporal and frontal lobes, especially Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas (in the left hemisphere of these two lobes). Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas are specialized for the production and comprehension, respectively, of human language. 
  • Physical: The cerebellum and the motor cortex (at the back of the frontal lobe) handle most of our physical movement.
  • Logical: The parietal lobes, especially the left side, drive our logical thinking. 
  • Social: The frontal and temporal lobes handle most of our social activities. The limbic system (not visible apart from the hippocampus) also influences both the social and solitary styles. The limbic system specifically handles behavioral and emotional responses like fear, anger, happiness and love. 
  • Solitary: The frontal and parietal lobes, and the limbic system, are also active with this style. The limbic system contributes to how one feels when they’re in either a social or solitary learning environment.

Applying Learning Styles in Business

As stated above, a lot goes into how one learns – it’s not just “a thing that happens.” If you want to convince colleagues or stakeholders or even your boss that a new system is the one they should choose, think about all that pours into their hybrid learning style and adapt your case to it before making your move. The efficiency of your teams could depend on it.

And once a decision is rendered, be sure to adhere trainings on the system to those styles as well. An efficient tool has no use if it’s not used efficiently (in a way that makes sense to the user). 

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Pamela Seaton
About Pamela Seaton

Pamela is a journalist and technology enthusiast writing for the growing business systems community.