By Michel Koopman on Sep, 18 2012
“Without inspiration, the best powers of the mind remain dormant; there is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.” – Johann Gottfried
The World We Live In
We live in a world of speed dating and 10-minute abs, so it should be of no surprise that time has never been more of the essence. The need for information now is fueled by the ability to receive it everywhere and anytime.
However, the same seemingly helpful advancements are also crippling our ability to filter out the noise and hone in on the salient points. As it pertains to ongoing education, this information overabundance leaves many with unfulfilled good intentions.
Our world is complex and getting more so. The rate of change is accelerating, rapidly. Meeting job requirements is difficult. People are busier than ever.
Culture of Learning and Innovation
Success at the corporate level is no longer constrained in silos, nor delivered in a top-down approach. Everyone within an organization is required to contribute anytime, anywhere, and to move past the typical job description. A CNBC research suggested that “nearly half of European business leaders fear being out of step with the rapid pace of technology change, and that it’s getting more difficult to keep up.”
How do you empower your employees to think like leaders, to carry out your company’s strategies, and to increase your organization’s ability to thrive?
According to a study conducted by Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger,more than 70 percent of learning happens informally, at the point of need and in collaboration with others. Therefore, what and how we learn is crucial. The great author and thought provocateur Andy Stefanovich noted in his book, “Look at More,” that “…you won’t find new solutions if you keep looking at the same things in the same ways.”
Innovation is a key cultural competitive advantage. For many executives, thinking differently, out of the box, can be a challenging task. When you’ve been working at a company for a long time, you tend to do things in a certain way, often easily and quickly, thus sticking to conventional thinking patterns. This prevents you from being innovative.
Stefanovich’s approach¾to look at more things, to think about ideas harder, to spark the mind into innovation, and to share them with others¾works. Changing the mood and mind-set of an organization happens when you produce new ideas, and stimulate originality and continuous learning. To do this, you need to provide your employees with tools and experiences that offer valuable, insightful and relevant knowledge that is easy to digest.
We can’t change the hands of time, but we can change how we handle it.
The Bersin High-Impact Learning Culture Report 2011 states that companies deep in the pursuit of higher learning cultures reported 98 percent strength in employee productivity. Those organizations rich in ongoing education were 13 times more likely to outperform their competition if they have the highest-quality leaders, and three times more likely to have highly passionate leaders.
Results in Five Pages and Under 10 Minutes
When you ask company execs what they see as the biggest barriers to translating learning into action, most reply the problem is time.
The Myth of the 40-Hour Workweek
One solution to improve organizational intelligence and build employee engagement is to allow access to compressed knowledge whenever people need it and in whichever form they prefer. Providing new, disparate ideas to solve problems and to grow is essential.
Roger Martin, author of “The Opposable Mind,” agrees. He states that “leaders . . . share at least one trait, aside from their talent for innovation and long-term business success. They have the predisposition and the capacity to hold two diametrically opposing ideas in their heads.”
But we have no time to learn nor to look at more things.
With an average time of 10 hours spent reading a business book, who has time to take in a variety of perspectives?
Through business book summaries¾focused on the most relevant knowledge, expertly compressed, and available at the speed of business¾the knowledge needed to make informed business decisions can be at your fingertips, whenever and wherever you want it.
Through five-page summaries or eight-minute audios, individuals have access to a multitude of renowned thought leaders who share their insights with them to help make informed business decisions, benefiting both their careers and organizations.
You can easily extend the benefit of compressed knowledge from the individual level to the department, company, and economic level. For a company, this means finding the balance between allowing users to choose subjects of interest and aligning suggested reading material to the organization’s business priorities. It is also important to make sure that those pearls of wisdom are accessible at the point of need, when learning happens. Thus the integration into existing learning systems or learning moments is essential. It is also vital that everyone in the company is aware of the benefits of compressed knowledge to drive viral adoption and create a cultural shift. Who would not want to read what the CEO is reading?
General Electric’s famed former CEO Jack Welch put it best when he said, “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” In short, the requirement for continued personal growth has greatly increased; personal growth is no longer a luxury item but a core tenet to ensure relevance in the marketplace.
My point: In order to succeed in business today, companies, and individuals alike must foster a culture of continuous learning.