ActionCOACH Southern Indiana

Use the Buddy System

The Value of Peer-to-Peer Learning for Entrepreneurs

At an early age, we’re taught “the buddy system” – the importance of having someone by your side, making sure you’re safe, and someone to check-in with. And that system never really goes away.

Every day, we have the opportunity to listen and learn from our peers. The value of peer-to-peer education and group learning has offered a platform that has increased education across the board. 100% of students in a Harvard study reported increasing their understanding of content taught in a course after they were prompted to teach other students. And 97% agreed that it increased their overall retention of the content. But maybe best of all, 92% of students claimed they were able to improve their communications skills when teaching peers and working in groups. (Benefits of Peer-to-Peer Learning, 2014.)

As we grow up and graduate from school, we may feel as though we stepped out of the classroom, but any good business owner knows life itself is the best classroom. And any great business owner knows you can learn from anyone or anything at any time.

Staying in the spirit of lessons we learned as kids, keep these 4 themes in mind when learning with peers:

1. Go Back to Your ABC’s

When I say ABC, I mean “Always Be Curious”. Ask questions openly. Ask questions in different ways. And ask the same question to different people. In peer-to-peer learning, it’s critical to stay open-minded. Use the ActionCOACH principle of changing out “I know” for “Isn’t that interesting?” That will keep your mind engaged with how you can continue to learn, rather than shutting it down because you think you’ve heard something before. If you’re having trouble coming up with questions, try thinking about the statement you want to say and turn it into a question – remember, use “who, what, when, where, why” or “how” to keep it simple!

2. Balance the Teeter-Totter

On this fun recess equipment, you need a buddy in order to have fun. It takes two for it to work well. Peer-to-peer learning is not so different. As valuable as it is to learn from others and ask every question that comes to mind, it’s important to share information, ideas, and resources with them. It’s all a give and take! Think about the balance of a teeter-totter and ask, then share, then ask, then share. That’s a win-win!

3. Dig and Dig Some More

Admit it, we all played in the dirt and it was fun to dig up worms, find new rocks, or better yet, find buried treasure! But how often did we find treasure buried below the surface? Probably not very often. No, the best stuff is usually hidden down deep and takes some time to find. So be patient but diligent. When working with your trusted set of peers, ask a question… then ask a follow up question that can take the conversation further. You may find some of the best golden nuggets of information buried deep in your time together.

4. Show and Tell

Sometimes it’s not easy to just say what we mean. Often the best way to share is through demonstrating. In peer-to-peer education, think about different ways your peers learn: through sound, through sight, or by hands-on experience. Come prepared to your meetings together with paper to take notes or draw concepts. And maybe think of ways to take your learning up a notch by getting hands on. Maybe you visit each other’s businesses on-site or share a computer screen to provide a demonstration. Be sure to mix it up with show and tell.

Join an Entrepreneur Peer Group

If you’re looking for ways to get involved with a peer group to learn and grow your business, check out the ActionMEMBERSHIP Program. You may also find groups through your local Chambers of Commerce. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re looking for resources!

Author: Kyleigh Mazer, Business Coach in New Albany, IN