Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Re-Writing the DNA of a Learning Culture--Part II

In the previous post I suggested that we could learn much about an effective learning culture by looking at large corporations that are doing it such as Apple and Google. The objection that is offered about basing a business case for effective learning cultures on the example of Apple and Google might go something like this:

"Wait a minute! It is unreasonable to use Google and Apple as examples since they represent the exceptions and not the state of the majority. Basing a major business decision on such a small sample does not make sound business sense, despite how good their ROI has been over the years. Besides what about our organization which is a medium size business? We are not at the top of the Fortune 500 index! "

 Perhaps, a sampling of the opinions of other leaders would help clarify the case even further.

Tom Glocer, former CEO of Thomson Reuters makes the business case for implementing an effective learning culture when he states:

"The best employees are the curious employees and those that want life-long learning. They want to know how things work. Stimulate that curiosity and desire for learning within your employees and you will open doors for innovation.."

Again returning to the business case of Google Inc., Glocer states:

"..The dedication the company shows to investing in the individual is often valued higher than compensation..."

David Westin, former President of ABC News states:
"In a world of constant change, you need to have people learning what is new and what is available, just to achieve mission..."

With regards to the state of a learning culture, Lori Figueiredo, an innovator and entrepreneur puts it succinctly when she states:
"At the end of the day, learning is not about bums on seats. It's part of a process to achieve a wider purpose."

Bottom Line---You don't argue with success; you learn from it and you adapt to excel and survive.


Re-Writing the DNA of a Learning Culture--Facing the Barriers

The choice of the term "DNA" in the title is deliberate and I believe, appropriate. When you consider that a business is in fact a living organism, then like any other organism there are a fundamental core set of instructions from which everything else in the business organization flows. This DNA code is what makes up what we would term the corporate"culture". This also means that the learning culture of a business organization is defined and controlled by the coding of the business culture itself. Any change that needs to happen with regards to innovation and the learning culture has to be approached first at this level. However, also coded into the DNA of a corporate culture are mindsets that were appropriate in their time but have now gone beyond their "best before dates" and are now impediments to any form of effective learning culture taking root and also the possibility of innovative thinking becoming a systemic, natural mindset for the growth of a 21st century organization.

Mark Cuban, shark tank star and owner of the Dallas Mavericks points to a problem with some big companies which is that they have lost their ability to be "audacious companies". The mindset required to be an audacious company is described as being bold, courageous and even heroic on one hand but on the other hand are defiant, presumptuous, irreverent, cocky and sometimes disrespectful.

What is being suggested here is a counter-cultural mindset and perspective. Too many companies suffer from what may be termed as "short -termism" which suggests that big companies are not adept at monetising ideas because they're so focused on delivering short-term performance to meet shareholder demands. Effective learning is not just for the employees and officers of an organization. There is a responsibility to educate the stakeholders. It is a reason that systemic innovation rarely takes hold and a reason why the learning culture is not properly supported and refined within an organization. This is why a re-write of the DNA of a learning culture within an organization is necessary. This is only one of a number of barriers.

Next.... Part III--Other barriers and the role of the Learning principles Expert(Guru?)

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