Do you ever have a journey where you don’t remember how you got there?


The other night I arrived home, turned off the engine, sat in my car for a few seconds and realised I had driven home on auto-pilot. As an L&D consultant, my mind immediately connected my drive home to a programme I’m currently running, which includes the consideration of Unconscious Competence as a learning practice.

For those of you who may not be aware of this particular method of learning, it is defined as “a learning model, relating to the psychological states involved in the process of progressing from incompetence to competence in a skill.”

Put in basic terms, it’s a learned way of completing a task with minimal thought. Often this is due to the fact that you complete this task on a regular basis so it becomes second nature.

Taking this into account – I’m sure we’ve all driven home on the unconscious competence highway!

But what happens when life throws in a diversion, a traffic jam or perhaps the need for petrol? How do we ensure we are getting the best fuel economy for our drive? How do we progress from auto-pilot to conscious competence and ensure we proactively notice the world around us?

In business terms, I can’t help but wonder how often we actually question our approach to a task to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and impact. We can become so set in our ways that we miss out on better results, improved tools and advancements to our business.

One of the key principles of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is the idea that if you always do the same thing, you will always get the same result. This is certainly true of the unconscious competence model, but it is also very reflective of how we do business today. Time is one of the few commodities we have, so we rarely have the opportunity to truly reflect and question whether there is a better way to work to improve results.

Being conscious of the dangers of always running on auto-pilot, I always endeavour to include time in my diary to self-reflect and think about my approach. This ensures I keep my actions conscious rather than unconscious, therefore avoiding the road block ahead that I wouldn’t otherwise notice.

Throughout the past 12 years working with large organisations I have seen this seemingly simple practice implemented following learning events, which has resulted in more effective ways of working and improved results.

However, these are my views and thoughts and I would be keen to hear from anyone able to comment to understand other opinions on this matter.

At the very least let me finish by asking you this: How often do you arrive home and not remember the journey?

About the author: Matt is an experienced, passionate and qualified learning and development professional with over 10 years’ experience.  Having occupied various consultancy roles, Matt is commercially aware and has a proven track record to deliver return on investment for clients such as LOVEFiLM, Film4, SKY and Carphone Warehouse. To read more about Matt please click here.

Read the fourth issue of Enhance magazine for an insight into applying neuroscience within learning and development.