Re-inventing corporate learning

All great achievers start out as individuals with a vision that ultimately impacts the realms they care deeply about! They may not initially intend to, yet they all have the ability to shape an entire industry or market. In our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA)  world and connected age, we all have the power to tune into and harness this creative energy to make a significant difference within the realms we do care deeply about. Making it possible to expand our creative ideas in unexpected ways to harnesses the power of entire industry eco-systems to shape innovative new industries and new markets. Re-inventing corporate learning to meet the needs of the emerging Gen-Y and Millennial generations of smart managers and leaders, is an absolute mandate towards flourishing in this new digitized and connected world.

“Small moves, smartly made can set big things in motion.”

An example that stunned me recently was stumbling across Seth Godins’ Education Manifesto, in which he questions the current education paradigm, asking that “we stop stealing dreams (what is school for)”. He states that “top-down industrialized schooling” does not enable children to understand, never mind develop the mindsets, behaviors and skills to meet the needs of, and flourish in the emerging “internet and connection economy”. He challenges our industrial age education system, describing how it deprives children of their imagination and creativity, effectively stealing their dreams.  He describes how most schools churn out safe, “predictable, testable and mediocre factory workers.” Who may yet become productive workers, however, most affluent countries can no longer afford their high employment cost,  if they want to compete in a globalized manufacturing world. He challenges the purpose and roles of schools and demands that we re-invent schooling,  reinforcing that we do not need schools to “create compliance, to cause memorization or to teach students to embrace the status quo”. We need schools where creative ideas flourish.

To meet the needs of an internet and connected world, he demands that schools teach children to be “fast, flexible and focused”.

He says that the real shortage today is in “dreams, and the wherewithal and the will to make them come true”.

This is definitely one of those “small moves” currently  sparking a global debate on the nature and role of schools and corporate education in a globalized, connected and diverse world.

Reading this made me realize that I that this same “rational, assembly line approach” has been replicated in the corporate learning and development industry as well. My rebellious and inherently deviant nature enabled me to survive and even flourish within the “school assembly line” as the high-school I attended never punished me for being different and disruptive. However, as a corporate consultant, trainer, global facilitator and executive coach I have eternally questioned the effectiveness of the majority of learning and development programs, in delivering what they promise,  during my long career spanning almost 30 years. I have sat next to, stood in front of, and shared audiences with a wide range of both passive and aggressive managers and leaders, who are so accultured to “not rock the boat” and “play safe” that even the mention of the words “disruptive innovation” has created  fear, trepidation and resistance to change and innovation.

Re-inventing corporate learning 

I realized that the same principles Seth Godin is applying to reinventing schooling also applies to the need to re-invent corporate education, a realm many of us care deeply about! This is billion dollar global industry is in need of a massive re-invention process to inspire and meet the needs of an emerging generation of managers and leaders to thrive in an internet and connected world! 

We need to enable leaders to recover from their inadequate industrialized schooling so that they can dream again and cultivate creative ideas, that result in innovative ways of flourishing in an internet and connected world.

This was further reinforced, by my recent participation in an Innovation Lab, called “Gen Y Entrepreneurship – Reinventing Leadership and Learning” at the Presencing Global Forum in Berlin in July this year.  Our group, which comprised of delegates from South East Asia, Middle East, US and Europe, understood that the emerging Gen Y workforce embodies values and aspirations that call for a re-evaluation of the way things get done in organisations.

Some of the key questions we dialogued over two days included:

  • How is Gen Y tackling our current social and organisational challenges with new ways of leadership and learning?
  • What are the opportunities for Gen Y to help the current system shift and move towards a better society?
  • How can we create enabling spaces for Gen Y to innovate and be even more effective in bringing such transformation into being?

Within our Lab, there was acknowledgment that the industrialized system, as described by Seth Godin, was not only inadequate, it was completely inappropriate in VUCA times.  There was a real sense of urgency for the development of new forms of learning, especially corporate learning, which were perceived as being largely playful and experiential to generate creative ideas:

  • Gen Y contributors expressed a deep desire to be shown ways that help them see themselves within the current system to effect ways to shift it from within.
  • They sincerely want to contribute through entrepreneurship, they want to feel connected, to be creative and authentically themselves.
  • They want to be awakened, they want think for themselves, they want to be heard, as part of a valued collective and they want to be enabled to realize their potential.
  • They want the corporations they work for to positively impact the communities, governments and societies they operate in by role modelling a different way.

These statements reinforce the need to shift the corporate education or learning and development paradigm, towards the development of a new perspective and skill set based on three Presencing described by Otto Scharmer as;

  1. The quality of our results in a system is a function of the awareness that the people in that system operate from; the essence being “I attend this way, therefore it emerges this way.”
  2. The new reality emerges from the opening of the mind, heart and will to connect ourselves to our deeper sources of wisdom, creativity and humanity.
  3. In order to bring about profound change around us, we first have to go through a profound inner opening not only as individuals, but also collectively. It’s about to linking people to each other, to themselves and to their own journey.

This suggests a focus on a whole systems approach that requires us to learn how to deeply observe and attend in new ways, to develop the deep intention and crystallized vision that enable us to iterate creative prototypes that allow the new to emerge. It also states that we have an opportunity to align with the needs of these emerging leaders, by teaching them how to be open minded and open hearted, to be  mindful and aware of themselves, and the needs of others.

To learn how to be detached and let go of power based and forceful methods that focus on the short term, the singular, as opposed to the collective, and polarize others.

I spent six years developing a deep understanding of the practical applications of the U process of Presencing, and an additional two years researching, designing and prototyping my own innovative global corporate learning and development consultancy  at

I hope that ImagineNation™ has been just one “small move” that has been smartly made re-inventing corporate education that may add just a tiny spark to open minds and hearts towards generating creative ideas, to be innovative to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

I am enthusiastic about contributing towards creating an innovative new approach to corporate learning and development. To inspire these Gen-Y & Millennial emerging leaders, towards meeting the needs of the wide range of cross generational and diverse leaders, and to help shape a new and connected corporate world. I have designed  a comprehensive spectrum of provocative and disruptive, iterative and generative, experiential and playful concepts, principles and techniques, that require experimentation, within a focused innovative corporate curriculum.  I hope to inspire both peoples’ and their organization’s innovative and entrepreneurial sparks.

How can we as a community of corporate educators, inspire and teach our clients how to dream and develop the creative ideas to shape the profound change that is so needed by organisations today to model what could be an innovative  new way?

At ImagineNation™ we provide innovation coaching, education and culture consulting to help businesses achieve their innovation goals. Because we have done most of the learning and actioning of new hybrid mindsets, behaviors and skill-sets already, we can help your businesses also do this by opening people up to their innovation potential.

Contact us now at to find out how we can partner with you to learn, adapt and grow your business in the digital age.