We can all agree “The Pandemic” is disrupting our personal and professional lives and nearly every geography of the world in ways never before seen. It certainly is affecting the way business executives in every industry are planning for their future success. In recent conversations with various leaders working to develop their strategy of building a better normal, one critical question seemed to consistently arise. “What changes do I need to make to achieve our goals in 2021?"
A common phrase we use at Butler Street when discussing change is
"Change is never change when it's the next logical step. The ability to change requires an ability to learn so we MUST create learning organizations."
In a world where a unique strategy, solution, or product can only maintain a competitive advantage for a short period of time, the only true sustainable competitive advantage is whether your people can LEARN and adapt at a more rapid rate than your principal competitors. So what steps can you take to create meaningful learning environments?
1. Build, recognize, and reward a culture of learning
What is a culture of learning? Begin by identifying the key constraints that prevent people from reaching their full potential as learners and develop a strategy with processes that address these obstacles. You want to nurture curiosity and learning in your employees. Perhaps tie in a promotion or income-boosting opportunities associated with specific learning initiatives; or make learning initiatives a part of your performance measurement scorecard. Allow the employees to explore their curiosity for learning…this starts by hiring people with high learnability and a naturally hungry mind to grow. Especially as we consider the Millennial and younger generation, there is an intense desire and ability to grow and adapt skills to enhance growth opportunities quickly.
2. Lead by example
First, we all need to agree that leaders set the culture, including the organizational mindset around learning. Once you’ve committed to a culture of learning, here are a few items to consider:
Hire driven people - Use structured interviews, assessments, and behavioral interviews to identify people fundamentally driven, who want to figure out what needs to be done, find a way to do it, and do it before you even know about it.
Encourage transparency and opposition. Learning cultures feature flat hierarchies, high levels of engagement, and openness. Tough questions are welcome. People go outside formal reporting lines to discuss ideas and issues without fear. In teams, there's constructive paranoia about the pitfalls of groupthink.
Support risk-taking and “successful failures” While we do not want our teams to take unreasonable risks, the best learning cultures support trying new things, even when they fail. Creating a culture of allowing mistakes, as long as they support learning and growth (hence, “successful failures” ) instead of repeating the same error, position both the individual and the company for growth. The last thing we want is employees that are entirely averse to taking risks.
Finally, model the behavior you seek to achieve by becoming a lifelong learner yourself and continuously monitoring outcomes of learning programs to ensure everyone is engaged and challenged.
One of my favorite quotes is from Tom Peters and it speaks to why it is so essential for us to create, nurture, and measure the success of our learning culture:
“Being good is a stupid idea. The only thing that counts is whether you are getting better at a more rapid rate than your principal competitors. It’s real simple… if you are not doing more, better, faster than they are doing …more, better, faster, then you are getting less better, or more worse.”
If you’re ready to do more, better, faster, contact us. Our focus before and during this pandemic remains constant - helping people and their companies grow