Build an Organizational Lifelong Learning Mindset
Our world is changing faster than our educational institutions can adapt. In order for businesses to ensure that their workforce has the skills that it needs, it should establish an employee development pipeline for every position it needs to fill, currently, or in the foreseeable future. Historically, this approach has been limited to leadership development but realistically it needs to be expanded to the organization as a whole.
Too often businesses take the position that they are too small or lack the financial resources to have a formal training and development department. In reality, as soon as a business hires its first employee, training becomes an important aspect of their operation.
A formal education is just a drop in the bucket of the “know how” that is used on the job. Employees learn from one another naturally every day. We learn in short bursts. Why not take that natural learning process and incorporate it into the organization’s normal operation.
Establishing recurring events, like workshops, that incorporate active learning techniques can give rotating cross functional employee teams an opportunity to work together, that they might not otherwise have, and shine a light on interests and skills that people didn’t know that they had.
By documenting through video or searchable wiki posts, the organization can assimilate its own knowledgebase to meet the growing information needs of its personnel and document experiments that worked and didn’t work and why.
There are lots of tools to support the collection and sharing of this type of information. In fact, it’s probably already happening in your organization. The question is whether the information is effectively organized, quickly searchable and easily available to the people that need it, when they need it.
In addition to raising our technical skills, organization should also consider a “curriculum” of topics that aren’t typically covered in school. Things like:
- Effective explanations that even people outside our area of specialization can understand and appreciate.
- How to give and receive feedback so that we become more effective communicators and build relationships rather than antagonize one another.
- Dealing with the blame game.
- How to have difficult conversations.
- Cognitive biases and ways to mitigate them.
- How to make good decisions.
- Identifying your strengths, how to capitalize on them and how to avoid using them to excess.
- Benefits of using positive psychology in the workplace.
- Financial Analysis for non-financial personnel. Everyone needs to understand how their actions and the actions of others affect the organization.
- Understanding risk, how to watch for it, what to do when you see it, and risk mitigation techniques.
- Futurecasting as a way of taking the things that we know are highly likely to occur and develop strategic and tactical plans to capitalize on that information.
- Understanding and developing Relationship Capital, how it helps people and organizations.
A key point is that training success should be judged based upon an individual’s mastery of the subject matter and include on-the-job reinforcement, not just be a “completed” checkbox on their personnel record. Training programs need to build in progressive activities to stretch and grow participants throughout the training process. A lifelong learning mindset needs to be built into the organization’s culture.
One simple suggestion for incorporating learning into business routines is to take an industry article (any industry that has an implication to your organization), give a 2 minute summary of the article’s highlights, and then take 5 minutes for group discussion on how to apply it to your organization. It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal; the point is to be continuously stimulating growth and development.
We haven’t even begun to tap the power of the mind and mindsets are the easiest place to start. It’s tricky stuff though because it means challenging our beliefs… We must not lose sight of the fact that our bodies follow where our mind takes us.
Ways to exercise an adaptability mindset include:
Openness to new ideas.
Adaptation to situations.
Handling unexpected demands.
Adapting or changing strategy.
Create a Positive Workplace
I’m referring to the way we think about things, for example: optimism versus pessimism, growth versus fixed mindset, being trusting versus distrustful, embracing change versus resisting it, considering the needs of all stakeholders versus self-serving, and thinking with a mindset of abundance versus scarcity to name a few.
Our perceptions of reality direct the actions we take. By making a conscious choice to shift our thinking to a positive productive perspective, we can change our lives for the better.
Not to mention that positive workplaces are more productive, engaging, creative, and innovative.
If an organization, as a whole, integrates trust, diversity, life-long learning, open mindedness and collaboration into its values and culture it will have incorporated much of the flexibility needed to adapt to our ever changing environment.
Creativity and Innovation
Creativity and innovation are the basic building blocks from which process and system improvements, new products, product lines, and services emerge. It’s the life blood for an organization that wishes to have a long and prosperous future. The problem is that machines can’t create or innovate only people can. Even still, it takes a relaxed, open, curious mind to be creative, which means you can’t demand it and get the best results. Instead, it must be nurtured.
Nurtured means creating an environment that learns from failure not punishes it. That empowers people to share and explore ideas through small experiments. Building a knowledgebase of ideas and experiments can become a treasure-trove of opportunities over time. Ideas that were initially deemed infeasible can become very attractive, particularly when external opportunities are figured in to the equation, which is another opportunity for building relationship capital with all stakeholders.