Five Methods to Learning a Foreign Technology

Technology is always changing. Unstoppable topics like Cloud and IPv6 are still relatively young and all sorts of new technologies are popping up around…

Last updated on April 29, 2021.

Technology is always changing. Unstoppable topics like Cloud and IPv6 are still relatively young and all sorts of new technologies are popping up around them – things like automation and BYOD. Business moves at the speed of light.  We need to find ways to re-write the laws of physics and learn about the technologies that are at the forefront and are fueling new business requirements.

I recently hired a couple of Technical Account Managers – both highly intelligent – and we found ourselves in a conversation about the best way to learn technology when certain aspects are foreign.  That conversation led to this next blog post. Here are five methods for learning a foreign technology.

  • 1. Train.
    I know – this one is a no-brainer. Training is essential, but typically isn’t the end point in learning a foreign technology. Training will give you the background on how this new technology is supposed to work. Technology doesn’t always work as expected in the real world – perhaps due to implementation or limitation.
  • 2. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  
    Don’t be scared of new technology – embrace it. You’re not going to immediately be the expert on new technology. Let’s be honest, people will ask hard questions, and you’ll probably have to configure/troubleshoot something you’ve never done before.  Saying, “I don’t know,” subsequently coupled with, “But I’ll figure it out,” should be commonplace.
  • 3. Tinker in your own time.  
    Rolling out IPv6?  Why not set up your home network first before trying to roll out IPv6 DNS in the enterprise? You’ll learn a whole lot more once you break it at your house first. Hurricane Electric is a great IPv6 tunnel broker – check out it. No excuse for not setting up IPv6 at home now. And, you’ll be the coolest family on your street because you’re the first house who is fully IPv6 compliant.
  • 4. Break it, and fix it (this goes hand-in-hand with method 3). 
    Personally, this is really where I learn the most. Things break, and learning the inner workings, subtleties and nuances of a technology will help you better understand implementation techniques, as well as common pitfalls.
  • 5. Embrace Karma. 
    Knowledge is power. Share it with your group, folks – don’t be the gatekeeper. Empower your colleagues and let them learn. I’m sure you have a distribution list at work where you send everything relevant. I know it’s a pain in the rear to recap details from a conversation and relay it to the rest of the team, but knowledge makes the world go round. Just think – if someone on your team shares a little bit of knowledge with you, you won’t have to spend time researching an answer to a question that someone else has already answered.

That’s it!  Those are my methods for learning a foreign technology. I’m sure there are a few more – but those are the ones I’ve stumbled upon during my career.  If you have any tips you think would be useful, we’d love to hear them!


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