Using the Thing to Make the Thing

I once sat in a five (5)-day lecture on adult learning; the irony was not lost on me. 

In retrospect, it's been the worst training class I've ever taken as a police officer. 

And I've been through some bad courses! 


Recently, my kids and I were watching an old episode of a popular woodworking television show. The craftsman was showing his audience how to make a certain jig for his workshop. In the process, he used a previously-made jig to make the new jig. (It's like using sawhorses while teaching someone how to make sawhorses.) 

My kid turns to me and asks thoughtfully, "If you don't already have that thing, how can you make that thing? It doesn't make sense..."



A decade ago, I co-designed a multi-day "train-the-trainer" curriculum for police instructors. Students left our class with a certificate issued by the State governing body -- allowing them to return to their respective police departments and teach the technical skills to others. 

As a designer of the course and the end-testing process, I was never awarded the certificate myself. How could I receive the certificate if I was the person who moderated the course?

The State governing body realized that I was teaching a course where my students received a certificate that I did not hold. They told me that I need to take the test so I could be awarded the certificate.

"You know I wrote the test questions, right?"


I share these three (3) short anecdotes to start a conversation about using the thing, to make the thing.

Should the instructor in the adult learning class have modeled the theories of adult learning to demonstrate the desirable methods?

Should the craftsman have omitted the use of the existing jig in making the new jig? 

How does the cycle of certification (and the infatuation with certificates) get broken to allow new information to break in? 

When do you use the thing to make the thing?

Do you recognize that your learners do not yet have the thing?

How do you gain respect for a new, unproven thing?


Let's figure out how to reinforce and how to contradict. How to create and how to destroy. How to analyze and how to synthesize. 

This goes holds for parenting, teaching, self-development, workplace training, sports coaching, and all sorts of growth endeavors! 

I'm convinced there are times to use the thing to make the thing. There are also times to use something else to make the thing.  As with depends. 


Lou Hayes, Jr. is a criminal investigations & intelligence unit supervisor in a suburban Chicago police department. With a passion for training, he studies human performance & decision-making, creativity, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. Follow Lou on LinkedIn, & also the LinkedIn page for The Illinois Model


Popular posts from this blog

Presentation Hack: Your Last Slide(s)

Presentation Hack: "For those of you who don't know me..."

The Generalist versus The Specialist