The FORGETTING Curve
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!?
How do you remedy the effects of the Hermann Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve?
Implementing written processes that NEVER forget! (i.e. checklists/procedures)
When you have implemented a complete, written operations manual—you are more than 90 percent of the way to conquering the problem and consequences of forgetting.
TRY NOT TO FORGET THIS!
If forgetting can be measured, then the waste that forgetting causes can also be measured. Think about it.
Did I mention? Great systems work!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.