To keep pace with the rapid change of technology, particularly the threats that face us, we must become learning organizations. Staying ahead of the curve involves a culture shift toward focusing efforts on adapting for the future. This is a lot easier said than done, especially for larger organizations.
Adaptation is innately human, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Especially when we consider that other human characteristics are in stiff competition with adaptation. We humans are inherently lazy, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. We’re meant to conserve energy not expend it on things that do not put food into our bellies.
Our ancestors evolved in an environment where resources weren’t always easy to come by. They hunted, foraged, and scavenged for millennia before inventing agriculture. It is during this time that so much of our brain development occurred, and many of those biological mechanisms that drove our ancestors continue to exist today.
A non-technical example is dieting. It is extremely challenging to change our diets to eat healthier. Especially with so much junk food surrounding us and being constantly thrust into our faces on TV, in web ads, and even in the checkout aisles at our local grocery store. But what makes it even harder to say no to sweets is that sugar equals calories which equals energy, and somewhere deep in our psyche is a hungry paleolithic person scrounging for every sweet bit of energy available.
So, how do we convince ourselves that spending seemingly precious resources on building a culture of learning is the way to go? Well, we have to look beyond the windshield. Americans are especially good at focusing on the windshield. But if we are to match or exceed the pace of technological growth, as the world races rapidly toward the singularity, we must be future-focused, and willing to take chances.
What are some things you can do today to help set yourself up for success? Only your organization will know exactly what works for you, but here are some things that have worked for others:
Develop learning plans for the organization, teams, and individuals;
Many organizations, including Starbucks and Google, offer employees tuition reimbursement;
Strategically allocate a percentage of your budget for learning and professional development;
Relax traditional views of the work environment; many employees, particularly in tech fields, are more productive when allowed to work remotely;
Pilot programs to encourage outside of the box creativity, such as allowing employees 10% or more of their time for innovation, allowing some teams to have a Results-Oriented Working Environment (ROWE), and building makerspaces or other creativity—boosting environments; and
Make your organization a place where people want to come to work, because it is rewarding and fulfilling.
Sometimes the change needs to happen at the top and trickle down. In this case, it is important for those leading the organization to know that there is a very specific difference between learning and training. Training is about instruction. Learning is about wisdom.
A true learning organization does not make the same mistakes over and over. A learning organization doesn’t punish failure, but rather encourages failing in the right way, and failing better every time. A learning organization promotes collaboration, innovation, experimentation, risk taking, and information sharing. A learning organization withstands the test of time.
Contact Tasman Global if you would like to turn your organization into a learning organization.
“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” ― Herbert Gerjuoy, psychologist