The Continued Power of Peer Learning

POSTED ON October 01, 2020

When the going gets tough, the tough get … together? That may not seem obvious but in reality, it’s natural, right? Often when we are faced with a challenge, we surround ourselves with peers who can provide perspective, advice, metrics or maybe even just a willing ear. But what happens when a challenge is presented so broadly that it is impossible to escape, such as a recession or, dare I say, a pandemic? The answer is encouraging.

NCM has been in the peer learning business for over 70 years. Whether we were working with our clients in a peer environment at the dealership, in a classroom or within a 20 Group meeting, the power of this environment and the exchange of information is what we have built our business on. What we saw and what we continue to see in this pandemic is a confirmation of the vitality of this model. Instead of retreating into their businesses to attempt to navigate through this unprecedented situation, we saw our clients immerse themselves and pivot toward their peers. This should be of no surprise, as those who have truly committed to a peer learning environment not only open themselves for the receipt of perspective, feedback and, at times, tough but necessary conversation, but they too are natural givers. What we saw with our clients was an immediate desire to help and that often started with a conversation.

Due to COVID travel restrictions and concerns, many of our clients began to meet in a virtual manner, which we have all now become accustomed to. However, the frequency of such meetings became indicative of how reliant peers have become on each other and the need to gather to best navigate through this. 20 Groups traditionally meet three times a year, but since the start of the pandemic, groups were meeting as frequently as twice a week to address the severity and fluidity of the situation. In fact, since mid-March, NCM 20 Group members have conducted over 1,600 virtual meetings. That’s a lot of interaction!

The power of peer learning versus pure instructional education or self-study has been validated for years. In a controlled study conducted by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, introducing peer-to-peer learning for just 10 minutes within a classroom environment increased learning by up to 42%*. Plain and simple, people prefer to learn from those who they can relate to.

As difficult as the pandemic has been, even unimaginable in many cases, I take great comfort in knowing that such networks exist for our clients to engage and prosper from within. So many dealers have reached out and given their peers direct credit for how they have been able to successfully manage this crisis, using statements such as “I’m so glad I had this group to reach out to.”

In summary, during these challenging times I hope that each of you can surround yourselves with peers that you can both give to and learn from to benefit from the power of peer learning. Whether it’s through a formal structure offered by a professional services provider or through an informal network of trusted advisors, I encourage you to start the conversation.