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Laura Weatherhead
Laura Weatherhead

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Learn. Do. Teach.

In the drizzly February of 2015, I was in San Francisco with a gaggle of Scottish women visiting some of the big tech giants such as Pinterest, Facebook and Google. Whilst there, we were invited to IDEO.

For those who are unaware, IDEO is a digital product design company based out in Palo Alto (amongst other places) and they are connoisseurs of human-centred design. Some examples of their ideology include:

  • Employing a 96-year-old woman to design and build a range of products to support the elderly.
  • Having an entire PlayLab which makes your inner child want to crash out on the beanbags and play with magic.
  • Building fantastic projects such as a sassy parking space assignment chatbot.

One thing that really stood out to me during our visit was their mantra of employee progression: Learn-Do-Teach. I have used it as a signpost in my own career ever since.

At its core, the idea is simple, they ask:

For each skill that you possess, where is it on the learn-do-teach scale?

For example, a high-level snapshot of my own LDT scale at the moment:


I know that I'm happiest when I have pending learning to supplement what I am already actively dabbling with, but it's different for everyone. There are some paradigms (such as C# .NET) that I will never feel I fully "know", but always work with and am capable of teaching aspects of...! It always depends, and it's always a fluid model - the joy of being a developer is that you can never really stop learning! <3

As we come to the close of 2018, now might be a good time to line up your own learnings or teachings. What's next for you?

Top comments (7)

molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her)

The Teach step is so important as you grow!!! I also think it is important to note that you dont have to be a master at something to teach it. You can Learn basics, Do basics, then Teach basics. Teaching, in my opinion, is what really solidifies the knowledge for you AND it gives you confidence in your abilities.

Great post!

kayis profile image

So true, teaching sheds light on the holes in your knowledge.

Also, there are always more people learning the basics then there are people who learn the advanced stuff. It's important that people who just learned the basics teach the basics.

jaimetrejo profile image
Jaime Trejo

I agree with this step. I haven't gotten the opportunity to teach much at my workplace, but I have been thinking of joining GirlsWhoCode as a Facilitator for the first half of next year. I just think that it would be cool to help others get into tech and hopefully get better at teaching/communicating.

lssweatherhead profile image
Laura Weatherhead

Thank you :)

Yeah, I definitely agree - when you've done a deep dive into something I find that it's actually quite hard to remember what you didn't know at the beginning. Makes it a bit harder to put yourself into the shoes of someone just picking it up, and for me that's the core of being an effective teacher.

saltysagan profile image
Chris Curteman

Great read! I love this mantra. Even though I'm at a lower level, it's inspired me to try to pass on what I've learned and help others understand the basics.

lssweatherhead profile image
Laura Weatherhead

Awesome! You’ll enjoy it :) the joy of teaching is that it consolidates everything you learned in the first place as well as any knowledge gaps.

It’s a super rewarding cycle :)

gregorgonzalez profile image
Gregor Gonzalez

I did not have time to devote myself to learning new things, I only learned on the fly and from work experience. Now I take every free time to learn. I had forgotten how much I liked it.

In my work I also teach new colleagues. Because I know it's hard to start from scratch. I hope to write a book, make video tutorials to help others.