Learning on the fly refers to people being adaptable when things don’t go as planned. As business changes and progress, there are times when it feels simpler to move back into performing tasks that are safe and easy. But moving outside that comfort zone to continually learn and to make clever, valuable risks, can have a wonderful reward for that individual and for their organization. Learning on the fly means when someone doesn’t give up. Someone who has ideas makes quick decisions in a difficult situation. He is enthusiastic, inspirational, and willing to try. He is flexible and courageous. Finally, those who take their work seriously.


Those who are unskilled –

  • Are not versatile or quick in learning to deal with unusual problems.
  • May not evaluate problems carefully or look for multiple clues and similarities.
  • May be scared to take a chance on the hidden.
  • Learn new things at a slow pace.
  • May be bound to historical, traditional methods, uneasy with uncertainty and quick to jump to solutions.
  • Are not aware of several things others know, just stick to the obvious.
  • Look for the simplest explanation.
  • Quit too soon and accept an insignificant solution.
  • Function on the surface, don’t go deep.


One who is skilled –

  • Learns quickly when faced with new problems.
  • Is a versatile and determined learner.
  • Is open to change.
  • Considers both successes and failures for improvement.
  • Tries and tests anything to find solutions.
  • Enjoys the challenge of an unknown task.
  • Quickly grab the substance and the underlying structure of anything.
  • Takes calculated risks.

Overused Skill

There are still others who overuse their skill. They –

  • May leave others behind.
  • May irritate others with their need for change.
  • Are likely to change things too often.
  • May view openness as ineffective or indecisive.
  • Seek out new experiences for the sake of change regardless of the situation.
  • May not be good at management or straightforward tasks or jobs.

Some Causes

  • Don’t evaluate successes and failures for clues.
  • Historical issues solver.
  • Don’t take risks.
  • Not self-confident.
  • Is a strict disciplinarian.
  • Sticks to the past.
  • Not open in search for parallels.

Explore: 10 ways to build a culture-of continuous learning

The Map

Most of us are good at implementing what we have seen and done in the past. We tend to apply solutions that have worked for us before. Most of us are quite good at solving problems we’ve seen before. A unique skill is doing things for the first time. Solving problems, we’ve never seen before. Trying solutions, we have never tried before. Evaluating problems in new circumstances and in new ways. With the increasing speed of change, learning on the fly and applying first-time solutions is becoming an essential skill. It involves taking risks, being less than perfect, leaving the past, being different, and creating a pathway.

Some Remedies

  • Facing A New Problem – When faced with a new problem, try to find out what causes it. Keep asking why, see how many causes you can come up with, and how many categories you can put them in. This increases the chance of a better solution because you can see more associations. Look for arrangements in data; don’t just collect information. To better understand new and difficult learning, put it in categories that make sense to you.
  • Look For the Nature of the Problem – Figure out the main elements of the problem and work to solve them. The less effective focus on desired solutions and either work in the reverse or focus on the surface facts. Look for the principles of what you’re working on and search the past for comparisons. Moving backward and asking a wider question will help in finding solutions.
  • Patterns – Look for patterns in personal, organizational, or general successes and failures. What was similar in each success or what was there in each failure but missing in a success? Lay stress on the successes; failures are easier to evaluate but don’t tell you what would work. Comparing successes gives more information about underlying principles. The main idea is to reduce your insights to principles that you think might be repeated so that when you are faced with a new problem those general underlying principles will apply again.
  • May Not Be Correct The First Time – This leads to safe solutions. Many studies show that the second or third try is when we really understand the problems. To increase learning, shorten your act and get feedback as quickly as possible. Frequent cycles give us more chances to learn; if we do something every three days instead of one thing every three days, we triple our chances of learning and finding the right answer. Do more experimenting.
  • Follow Experts – Find an expert in your business area and find out how they think and solve new problems. Ask them what are the essential things they look for. What are the major skills they look for in considering people’s proficiency in this area? What are the main questions they ask about a problem; how they would suggest you go about learning quickly in that particular area.

Some More Remedies to Consider

  • Reverse the Problem – People who think in different ways when confronted with a problem are likely to do better. Turn the problem upside down. Ask what is the least likely thing it could be, what’s missing from the problem, or what the mirror image of the problem is.
  • Use Others – People with a wide diversity of backgrounds give the most unusual solutions to problems. Get others with different backgrounds to analyze and come together with you. When working together, come up with as many questions as you can. Compete with another group or individual, asking them to work on the same thing you are working on. Set a certain time limit and try to collect some of the practices and procedures that work best. Find a team or individual that faces similar problems as you face and raise dialogues on a number of specific topics.
  • Do Quick Experiments and Trials – Studies show that most innovations occur in the wrong place and are created by the wrong people. Technical innovations fail in tests within the company. Even among those that make it to the marketplace, most of them fail. Learning on the fly and trying lots of quick, inexpensive experiments increase the chances of success.
  • Thinking Only of Solutions – In studies of problem-solving, usually, solutions outweigh questions. Similarly, most meetings on a problem start with people offering solutions. Early solutions are usually not the best. Set aside half of the time for questions and the other half for solutions. Asking more questions early helps you rethink the problem and come up with varied and more logical solutions.

Learning on The Fly is Important in Business

In conclusion, there are lots of opportunities in all of our daily lives to stretch our learning on-the-fly qualities. Take the leap, you won’t be distressed. When people rush, they’re working on the fly. Things are changing at an astonishing pace. Furthermore, for most educators, there is an even bigger challenge to make sure that what they teach in school remains appropriate long enough to get their students into the workforce. This might sound strange but it’s true, and it’s opening up a new type of education and a whole new opportunity for those who can do one thing i.e., learn on the fly.

Businesses are under constant stress to keep pace with rapid changes in technology, and the reality of the business environment is that they must either face the reality or they are likely to vanish. New solutions are quickly replacing old ones. This change creates a growing need for a workforce that can benefit from the newest tools while managing the change that is an unavoidable result. If a workforce is capable of learning on the fly which means they are curious, quick thinkers who perform successfully under new and challenging situations, then this is certainly going to help the organizations.

Contact us if you are interested in a L&D related training program that is tailored to the needs of your organization or team.