Friday, December 13, 2013

The shoemaker and his (own) mould

For years I have been wearing orthopedic shoes. The fun thing is that you may design your own shoes. The first pairs of shoe pairs it was quite frustrating that they do not look out exactly as you designed them... Since years I know that the final shoe will not look exactly like my design and I think it's fine. I'm going to switch from one shoemaker to another shoemaker. So I asked the shoemaker if he could send the mould (do you call it like this?) to the new shoemakers, which seemed logical and efficient. Something about not reinventing the wheel or doing double work ...

The shoemaker did not want to send his mould to his colleague He explained that every shoemaker has his own way of working, there are subtle differences in how you approach it. He would never want to work with a mould made by his colleague, but rather create a new one. His mould of the same foot will be quite different. This surprised me, it seemed so logical to share the mould as an outsider. It got me thinking again about how hard it is to share materials between professionals, and learn from each other's unique way of working. I once taught a course with the curriculum of another teacher, but found myself adjusting many things and almost wished I started from scratch. Although the practice of trainers, for example, looks alike for outsiders, there are many subtle differences that make the work of a professional unique. With a colleague we like to make prezis together and I notice that it is still hard to explain a hard made by a colleague you know really well.

This week I facilitated the third session of a community of practice. One participant told me that he had really connected with two other participants. They share a lot with each other and talk about all their projects. I strongly believe it take a sustained interaction over a longer time frame in order to be able to really learn from each other. This is the only one way to learn how another professional tackles the same challenges. Though I had the impression this shoemaker did not really want to learn something from his colleagues - he knows just how how he wants to work.