Learning Requires Time
Do you value learning? Or is it really just the “idea” of learning something new that is valued? This was an interesting question posed by Cameron Norman in a blog post about how “serious” we are about learning. Many of us certainly say we love learning, but when we go to that conference, do we really seek out opportunities to get access to truly new material that we can apply and test back in our work environments, or do we stick with the content that’s already familiar to us? We say we want our employees to learn, and that we love learning organizations, but do we give them time? And not just time to go to conferences or take webinars, but time to just think about it. Down time and slow time where we can intentionally let our minds wander enough for creativity to really get to work. I think it’s all too rare. We’re all too busy to learn.
The last of the four human elements we discuss in Humanize is how to be courageous. We presented it as the last of the four because I think it’s the hardest, and the need to create time for learning is part of that. Courageous organizations have cultures that value and fully embrace learning. And not just “reactive” learning, where you sense a technical problem and then go figure out the solution. We mean “adaptive” learning, where the problem was never crystal clear to begin with, and solutions are rarely permanent because of ongoing changes to the system. Adaptive leadership like that needs continuous learning. Courageous organizations need learning to be a basic capacity, everywhere in the system.
And if you’re nodding your head at that, then tell me why you go around the room at your staff meeting asking people what they did last week? If all we ever talk about is activity, then all anyone will ever do is…activities. Why are all your performance metrics based on activities and outputs? Why do you, yourself, pass up on conferences, workshops, and other educational programming due to “lack of time”? When’s the last time you booked yourself half a day out of the office with just a blank notebook and a pen? When’s the last time you and your team spent time thinking about work/programs/etc. that you are NOT currently doing?
These (admittedly) rhetorical questions are not meant to guilt you into implementing these suggestions. There aren’t simple, check-list answers to this. But learning requires time. Of course, so does getting things done. But if you’re serious about tapping into power that our overly mechanical organizations have been ignoring for decades, then there needs to be a shift. Invest in learning if you truly want growth.