Just want to point to this lucid article by my friend John Wenger: transformational learning.
If someone wanted to learn something like ‘how to have a difficult conversation with a staff member’ in a transactional way this may result in him or her having more ‘top tips on difficult conversations’ but it would be unlikely to result in deep or significant shifts in how they relate to their staff. Furthermore, research shows that the half-life of knowledge that is simply transferred is very short. This means that any positive benefit of someone learning what they need to in a transactional manner would be neither deep nor long-lasting. This is simply because material such as this requires the involvement of both the ‘thinking’ brain AND the limbic brain; the part of the brain that governs feelings and how we manage relationships. Research indicates that skills based in this part of the brain are best learned through motivation, practice and feedback, rather than simple transfer of information. In other words things that involve the “F” word (feelings) require a transformational learning process. As Emotional Intelligence guru Daniel Goleman, states, “A brief seminar wont’ help, and it can’t be learned through a how-to manual.”