Live Long and Prosper: Perpetual Learning is the Key

Monday, September 15 2014

In the 21st Century’s highly dynamic marketplace every organization must commit to learning for long term success.

Rapid changes in society mean new needs and wants are emerging in every client base. Each organization must constantly relearn what it must do to fulfill these new requirements and attract new resources.

How can the organization perpetually learn?

Learn what to learn.

Look to a broad spectrum of sources outside the organization for trends in demographics, social attitudes, economics, politics, competition, and technology. Distill emerging opportunities and threats.

Systematically survey your clients about what works well for them, what is becoming less useful, what changes they face and how it will affect what they will want from you. Ask:

  • What new needs and wants are rising?
  • What needs or wants are fading?
  • Where will there be new competition for our resources?
  • What new sources of resources will emerge?
  • How will people embrace technology and what will they expect us to use to serve them?

Create a learning culture.

Establish learning as an important value. Lead by example. Express what leaders must learn, how they are to learn it, and the results that are expected.

Budget for learning. Research is very clear that training is one of the best investments an organization can make.

Have everyone build written learning plans that include specific, measurable learning goals and milestones, which describe new, more effective behaviours and the results that will be achieved.

Size up your organization.

Look for ways to improve what you do better than your competitors.

Unearth key strengths and weaknesses; match them to your opportunities and threats in order to detect what to learn to enhance key strengths and overcome critical weaknesses.

Learn what was learned.

Everyone learns at work every day; but, rarely do they ascertain what was learned. Establish expectations and systems for people to reflect upon and note their daily learning.

Coach people to learn from their experiences in order to improve service to both external and internal customers. Ask them to pinpoint wasted time and resources using a simple diary describing problems, underlying causes and solutions.

Have the organization document and share learning in a simple open file such as a blog. Hold regular, informal meetings allowing people to share their new insights.

When the organization learns what must be learned, invests in a learning culture and promotes learning documentation, it moves ahead of those which do not. It lives long and prospers.