Did you know that within one hour, a person forgets nearly half of what they learn?

And that within 24 hours, almost two-thirds of previously learned information is forgotten?

Hermann Ebbinghaus was born in 1858. He was one of the first to study the process of forgetting. His 1885 experiments showed a relationship between the forgetting of learned information, over time—it’s known as the Hermann Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. Ebbinghaus’ experients found that a person actually forgets a large part of what they learn, within just 20 minutes.

This discovery is really NOT surprising, when you consider all the FORGETTING that happens in a business or organization on a daily basis, which causes errors, bottlenecks and other types of waste. All of this costs money and depletes the bottom line, adding more stress for owners and managers, especially in a challenging economy.

Things owners and managers experience, due to the “Forgetting Curve:”

  • I forgot you told me to call the customer for a press check…Sorry!
  • I forgot to order the part for the technician coming today…My bad!
  • I forgot and left the door unlocked to the server room…Oops!
  • I thought I told you I had to be off next week. Oh well!
  • I was rushing around and forgot to order the paper…So shoot me!
  • I know you spent a lot on my training…I just can’t remember, OK!?

Sadly, we’ve also found that, in some cases, workers just don’t bother to retain information. I have to assume, somewhere deep in the creases of their libido, they’ve decided some information is just not relevant to their life agenda.

So, this type of individual tends to plug into the nearest information terminal—usually the owner or manager. Apparently, this seems to them a convenient (I’d say, LAZY) method of getting instructions or relative information to complete tasks they perform regularly. Now, if the owner/manager doesn’t mind being plugged into repeatedly, why should a worker bother to remember anything!?

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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