“You’re getting paid for your knowledge, intelligence and skills” was the message I heard a Director share with young staff that were on a two-year entry-level management development programme. He was encouraging those present to accept responsibility for their own development and he was right to do so.

Taking personal responsibility for the development of one’s own knowledge and skill set; taking responsibility for developing one’s own intelligences – be that emotional, adaptive, social or spiritual is a personal responsibility. Expecting ‘others’ – the organization, to be responsible for such personal development is flawed thinking. Some might even label it, ‘lazy thinking’.  But what smart companies do is to ensure that they provide abundant opportunities for such development to take place. Doing this increases the odds on attracting and retaining ‘the Best’.

Responsibility for learning sits with the Learner.  The responsibility that sits with those tasked with the architecture and shape of developmental programmes and education is to simply provide the environment that will facilitate learning.  Perhaps ‘simple’ is a misnomer as doing such is anything but simple. Learning programmes have been curtailed by past models of ‘how we do it’, the unwillingness to embrace discomfort as a friend to authentic learning and the reluctance to incorporate risk and experiential practices in the art of learning. Learning has become a science that is swapped by the need to measure and control the outcomes.

Things need to change with our approach to learning within organizations and as to what the ‘learning organisation’ looks like.  And here’s a thought for companies: these new insights concerning learning might come from unlikely sources; ones that include schools, the non-profit sector and the ‘two-thirds ‘world of developing nations.

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