Tip #729: Learning How to Learn in an Organization
“The illiterate of the future are not those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Alvin Toffler
According to Willie Pietersen in his article, Learning How to Learn, “in an increasingly turbulent world, the crucial life-sustaining competency is learning how to win at learning.” He offers five precepts “proven to be powerful drivers of organizational learning.” [Note: All of the following is drawn from his article]. https://www.td.org/insights/learning-how-to-learn
- Define What to Learn. To be strategic, organizational leaders must direct intellectual resources toward the right goals through a process of guided learning. By far the most advantageous learning is outside-in. Research done by the Anglo-Dutch consumer products giant Unilever concluded that customer centricity, not operational efficiency, is a firm’s main source of competitive advantage.
- Learning is a Journey, Not an Event. Instilling learning as a habit starts with the individual, possibly keeping a learning journal. Hermann Ebbinghaus’s research showed that the average person loses up to 90% of new information after 30 days unless some countermeasures are taken: promptly record new learning; review these insights regularly; and apply them in practice as soon as you can.
- Questions are More Important Than Answers. Learning is engendered by asking the right questions that force us to challenge our underlying assumptions and open our thinking to new vistas. A key part of a leader’s mission is to serve as the chief learning officer who asks questions that invite exploration and dialogue and that demonstrate an honest interest in the answers.
- Learning From Mistakes. Decision making is not the pursuit of certainty; it is about choosing actions in the face of uncertainty. It involves taking risks.[I love this quote!] Although it sounds counter-intuitive, encouraging sensible risk taking is all about how an organization deals with the reverse side of the coin- mistake making. Shift the culture from blaming to learning and force the organization to define, measure and act on what has been learned.
- Get Away From the Urgent, Think About the Important. When we have been hammering away at a problem, the secret is to not go on hammering; it is to withdraw and change our mental state. After months of hard work and despair, Nicholas Tesla went for a walk in a park and finally uncovered the value of alternating current.
In summary, Pietersen says that learning should not be a seasonal event for organizations. It has to be a continuous focus, led by the chief learning officer.
May your learning be sweet.