Scaling Your Business & The Trap of Slow Learning

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On February 20, 2020

Learn fast in business

Why It’s Important to Learn Fast And Be Nimble To Adjustments In Business

Being a Slow Business Learner Isn’t Funny

In comedy, a “slow learner” is a common character. For more than 70 years, Wil E. Coyote has chased the Roadrunner across the desert without learning a thing. He makes the same mistakes over and over. He’s the poster child for slow learning, and we love to laugh at him. But being a slow business learner isn’t funny. Wile E. Coyote may miraculously recover from what appears to be fatal errors, but many businesses don’t.  So now is the time to learn fast.

Let’s take a brief look at scaling your business and the trap of slow learning.

What Do I Mean by Slow Learning?

The trap that many businesses fall into is that they are slow to learn from their mistakes. Let’s face it: all businesses make mistakes. That’s life. It becomes a trap when a business continues to make the same mistakes repeatedly. I’ve written before about the very real danger of moving too fast when trying to scale your business. Sometimes, the prudent thing to do is slow down and evaluate important things such as vision, strategy, and execution.

When it Comes to Learning You Need to be Fast

When it comes to learning, however, you need to be fast. Almost every business publication today talks about disruption and how our marketplace has changed. Businesses today need to be nimble and ready to make adjustments to meet the needs of the marketplace. That means they need to constantly be learning. They need to study their audience and learn about what they want. But they also need to study their own performance and systems to see what they need to change (transform) if they want to be able to meet those needs.

The problem is that people and businesses often resist change. That’s a real problem if you’re trying to scale up your company to be a major force in the industry. It’s deadly if you are slow to correct mistakes. Obviously, there needs to be some kind of balance. You can’t bounce around from one new idea to another and chase “the idea of the month.” You do, however, need to be able to learn fast. Going slow doesn’t help you if you repeatedly make the same mistakes.

Very few businesses use a turtle as the image that embodies the qualities to which they aspire. On the other hand, few businesses look to rabbits as good business role models. They may be quick, but they’re not known for their incredible intellect. I can’t think of a single business that uses Wile E. Coyote as their mascot. He may be fast. He is definitely persistent. But he’s a slow learner. In 70 years, he’s never caught the Roadrunner.

Learning from the Hedgehog

Perhaps that’s why best-selling business author, Jim Collins, (Good to Great) suggests that the humble hedgehog can teach us a lot about business because the hedgehog does one thing and does it well. Collins ties that “one thing” to three things that the business “hedgehog” has learned:

  1. He knows what he’s passionate about
  2. He’s focused on being the best at doing what he does
  3. He’s learned what drives his economic engine

The faster you can learn that the sooner you can begin transforming your company and scaling it up to be a dominant force.

You Can Learn from Others as Well

You’ve no doubt heard that those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. The good news is that you don’t have to make the same business mistakes that others do. You can learn the lessons that others made without having to suffer the consequences. I invite you to download our free How to Avoid the Growth Traps eBook for a look at 10 common traps scaling companies can fall into. Knowing what to look for can help you avoid the traps that can hinder your company from scaling up. This is just one way that you can be a quick (and relatively painless) learner!