Maintaining interest

A cropped image of a flower showing the curve of the seeds against the yellow petals.
Photo by Hemanth Nimmagadda on

It launches and there’s a buzz. The expectation is that it will grow and grow but, after a little time the interest has halved. You push it again but after a little more time, interest has halved again. You try again and interest halves again.

This reverse Fibonacci sequence happens again and again in learning. We assume the interest will be maintained because, well, it’s important.

But it’s not as important as you think for the people engaging with it. For them it’s a one-off, a brief interruption to their routine. Their interest is like a sparkler; burns bright at a high temperature for a brief time and then disappears. For you the interest is the fire; lower temperature but long-term and strong heat.

Knowing how to transform people’s interest from an interruption, to an ongoing interest, is something we’re not great at in learning.

We try.

We are asked to make things mandatory to create false jeopardy. The assumption is we’ll turn it into a fire to ignite some heat. But people see through it, The fire is fake and has no heat so they ignore it. If mandation has no consequence, it’s meaningless.

Don’t expect to keep everyone’s interest, so plan accordingly. Target who wants the fire. Understand the audience who are there just seeking some time away from the routine. Help people know how you can help them when they need you, not when it suits you.

Make sure your sponsors understand the numbers.

Most importantly, make sure you understand the numbers and, if you recognise a Fibonacci sequence, work out why.

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