The Agilist Network

Tales and Tips from Agile Software Projects

Are We Ready for the Guitar Hero Employee?

Posted by kenhoward on December 1, 2008

I have been trying to learn how to play the piano for almost 30 years, and on my best day, I’m a poor piano player. Although I know how to read music, and I know which keys correspond to each note, I usually resign myself to pounding chords with my left hand and tapping out the melody with my right hand.

Two of my sons were home for Thanksgiving weekend, and each sat at the piano and played beautifully. I’m talking full two hands on the piano, hitting every note – harmony, melody, arpeggios, style, the whole nine yards. I was in awe of the music each of them was able to eek out of the piano. And here’s the surprising thing – neither of them has looked at the sheet music, and if they did, it would likely just be a distraction.

So what’s the explanation? Music prodigies? I think it has more to do with the fact that they are in touch with how they best learn. The same skills that allow them to excel at Guitar Hero and Wii Bowling can apply to other real world skills. They are kinesthetic learners – they learn by seeing, touching, and emulating behavior. They each learn tunes on the piano by watching YouTube videos with close-ups of talented players fingering the keys. The interesting thing is that this is not an isolated phenomenon – there’s a multitude of these learn piano videos on YouTube that are getting tens of thousands of views.

To the other business folks out there, this phenomena is representative of our incoming generation of workers. The video game culture has created a generation of kinesthetic learners. My wife commented, “Wouldn’t be great if school subjects were available as video games?” Imagine Playstation Physics, X-Box Calculus, and Wii History…

And if we resist? What will happen when these kinesthetic learners enter the workforce and struggle to integrate them into a business world littered with dazzling white papers, PowerPoint slides, and weekly status meetings? I believe there is a change coming that is going be fun and interesting. Stay tuned…


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