distill

Sometimes my students at the University of Phoenix, (where I teach leadership and strategic management courses), make an easy mistake when writing mid-term papers.  They read the topic or instructions for the assignment and then regurgitate on paper everything they can recall from class lectures or the textbook related in any way shape or form to the topic at hand.  They mistakenly believe quantity (as in number of page written) is what will get them a good grade. But the key to a well written paper, just like the key to a well designed course or workshop, is not to spew out volumes of information.  Rather, the key is to distill the ideas and concepts into the important, essential elements of the learning.

Too often I think of distilling as simply boiling down or purifying a liquid, yet it also can be applied to refining any element of a leadership development program into that essential bit of learning that will be easily remembered, applied by the workshop participant, and then transferred to improved leadership behaviors and actions on the job or in life. So, after percolating all the energetic ideas and creative elements from your brainstorming and planning session, and following steeping the ideas to reflect on them and to prioritize and determine the key elements to include in the leadership development program, the third essential skill is to distill the key elements into the essential learning activities and exercises that will deliver meaningful and lasting results for your participants.