When I was living in Israel, seeking a more meaningful life, I was unable to work in my culture consulting, top team and leadership development areas of expertise. As a result of this very serious and high impact problem I experienced a powerful and deep collision between the necessity to earn a living, and the possibilities emerging in such a creative, innovative and entrepreneurial environment. It meant that I had to develop the learning agility to embrace, adapt to a disruptive, diverse and different culture.
This required letting go of most of what I knew and practiced, and learning completely new ways of being, thinking and acting differently in almost every area of my life.
It was not easy, and I made zillions of mistakes, seriously failed, and faced heaps of adverse people and situations as well as a huge number of monumental brick walls. What mattered was that I had already experienced, experimented with, and achieved eight major career and life changes. I had also invested a large part of my corporate life in continuously learning how to learn, and in learning how to teach others how to learn, to be the best they could be in the context of transformational leadership, teams, achievement and accountability.
This meant that I was capable, had the capacity (and occasionally) the confidence, to stay in the learning and development game.
I did this intentionally, by working on being proactive, constructive and non defensive (even though it was often very hard) and by not blaming and shaming others (even though it was often very tempting) when things went astray. By seeing myself as responsible for becoming the best person I could be, and by perceiving it all as significant “learning experiences”.
Little did I realize at the time, and only through retreat, reflection and later through integration and assimilation in one of my many career manifestations, I had become, in practice, what we now call, at ImagineNation™ an “agile learner.”
This is now the basis for our global innovation culture, education and coaching streams.
Developing learning agility
Sustaining success in today’s uncertain, unstable and highly competitive business environment is becoming increasing dependent on learning, yet most people, and most organisations don’t seem to know how to learn, never mind know how to develop learning agility.
“In an age of rapidly evolving technologies, business models, demographics, and even workplace attitudes – all shifting concurrently- change is not only constant but also exponential in its pace and scope.”
BCG in their “Twelve Forces That Will Radically Change How Organization Work Report” identified four key categories; “The first two address changes in demand for talent; technological and digital productivity and shifts in the ways of generating business value. The second two address changes in the supply of talent; shifts in resource distribution and changing workforce culture and values”.
These forces will revolutionise the whole notions of “talent,” and the way work gets done in companies. It will compel leaders to rethink and relearn “even the most basic assumptions about how their organizations function”.
To survive, compete and flourish with the pace and scope of change, improving people’s confidence, capacity and capability for learning agile ways of being, thinking and acting differently is crucial.
This enables them to develop the ability to make intentional shifts in changing contexts, to know how to create the safe space, to respond to the unexpected and unplanned in big and small ways.
Benefits of learning agility
When we know how to embrace, adapt and continuously improve ourselves (and others we impact and interact with) through learning, we can create, invent and innovate real business breakthroughs. We can really make a difference, in ways that are meaningful and add value to the quality of people’s lives. In the case of customers, when we know how to learn to continuously invent and deliver new products and services, through constant improved operational efficiencies and business model innovation, it results in a “greater user experience.”
In the case of our peoples’ talent, when we know how to learn how to make work more meaningful, connected and purposeful, we can better energise, catalyse, mobilize and harness their collective genius.
This results in a more creative, engaging and empowered high performance workplace.
In the case of organizations we can learn how to learn to increase revenue generating products and services and to generate greater customer satisfaction (and advocacy). Organizations benefit from increasing their speed to market and by the number of innovative projects, by improving operational efficiencies and by developing innovation cultures and eco-systems that maximize people’s talent as collective genius.
Cultivating innovative agility
At ImagineNation™ we know that the corporate learning and development market is being seriously disrupted.
Seeing this as a catalyst for re-inventing the corporate learning paradigm, we have developed, by testing, failing, learning and adapting our capability, capacity and confidence to innovate, an innovative and agile menu of learning pathways.
Where connecting happens through an implicit shared experience and intention, and learning happens through play, experimentation and emergence, that enables people to see their worlds with fresh eyes, and co-create new ways of being, thinking and acting.
This enables people to:
- Discover, explore and generate simple ways of working and flowing with, complex adaptive systems.
- Passionately and purposely create value by transforming business and user generative problems into innovative solutions.
- Creatively, courageously, compassionately and collaboratively respond to the unexpected.
- Give, take, and get permission to fail (with forgiveness) and learn by improvising, experimenting & doing.
- Provocate, punctuate and disrupt the status quo and experiment with unconventional methods to get work done.
This enables organizations to use their resources creatively and effectively, sometimes at a moment’s notice in response to the unexpected.
It also prioritizes ways of being, thinking, and acting which creates the permission and safe space for your people to move, reflect and respond authentically and effectively.
Developing the four “E”s of Learning at work
If you are seeking to develop both innovation and learning agility it is important to incorporate the “Four E’s of Learning” at Work – Education, Experience, Environment, and Exposure.
This involves supporting people to learn at work to continuously upgrade their talent; “both” their knowledge, skills, experience “and” their motivation, moods and mindsets.
This is achieved by integrating technology and blending learning solutions that enable digital learning, playful and experiential learning, self paced and team based 24/7 learning.
In other words, making learning agile, available and accessible to everybody, at every time, across everything!
- Having the time to learn and feel that their new skills are valued.
- Taking time out for retreat, reflection and exploration of generative discovery of new ways of being, thinking and doing.
- Having the freedom and permission to question, challenge the status quo and experiment with new ideas, fail without punishment, make and learn from mistakes.
It is important to design and develop learning programs that facilitate both micro and macro learning that develop people’s competence, capacity and confidence to adapt and innovate in changing contexts.
Macro learning involves learning a whole new domain, where people need to continuously inject new skills, information, moods and mindsets, behaviors and connections to;
- Move and speed up their learning curve until they become experts at innovation so that they can teach and coach others.
- Create space for learning “on the job skills” through practice, repetition, and continuous questioning about why something didn’t work.
Whilst micro learning involves what we can quickly learn, view or consume in short periods of time, and at ImagineNation™, we cluster micro learning activities to create customized agile macro learning blended learning programs for our clients.
Creating new agile learning pathways at ImagineNation™
The following diagram illustrates our approach, by putting The Agile Learner at the center, and offering a range of micro options that can be patterned into a macro customized blended learning structure. This can meet our clients learning needs in terms of subject or topic depth and breadth, as well as suit all learning styles, time, and technology and cost needs.
Flourishing in the new world of work
In the report Josh Bersin “The Disruption of Digital Learning: Ten Things we have learned” reveals that employees are feeling “overwhelmed” and in reality, only have “24 minutes a day to learn”.
If we want to seriously achieve 21st century success, sustainability, then we have to work harder at making people matter.
We can do this strategically, systemically and in more intentional, meaningful and purposeful ways, and through more creative, agile and innovative micro and macro, blended and agile learning pathways.
This will energize, catalyze, mobilize and harness your people’s collective genius.
He suggests that what really matters is your culture, your people’s career successes and coaching. In ways where people feel safe, empowered and have permission to participate in on the job experiential learning, where they can learn from mistakes; supported by effective performance data and rewards systems within a culture of learning.