Have you ever looked carefully at the structure of 1 John? The first time I read it I thought the author was just repeating himself. Yet on more careful examination, he is working through the same three themes more and more deeply with each round so that it becomes a part of you.

When you’re trying to train people—in whatever area—it might make you feel better to comprehensively lay the whole thing out. The problem is that people can’t possibly absorb it all in one round. It’s better to keep circling back so people get a deeper and deeper understanding of the material. They learn better through multiple exposures, particularly if they’ve had the chance of direct experience in between those exposures.

I think John knew this. You get more lasting and deeper change if you take a cyclical approach. Take things in bite-sized pieces, letting people process it as they go. That’s the cyclical approach vs. the front-loading approach we usually take. Next time you’re designing a process, instead of unloading the information all at once, consider how you could introduce the basic concept, help people live into it, provide additional input along the way, then help them engage in an reflection-action cycle for continued growth.