5 Ways to Check.

The good news is that workforce’s around the world consistently deem learning one of the most important human capital trends via Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends report. Unfortunately, disruption now puts further pressure on organizations to enlist unlearning and learning as key differentiators that’ll help them stand out. Under the current climate of disruption, the main question now becomes “how rapidly can your organization UnLearn?” or “how quickly can your organization self-disrupt?”

Here’s a list of 5 factors to check for, when considering the UnLearning culture of your organization.

 1. Leadership Modelling

How do leaders respond when other members of the organization mention suggestions or challenges that can only be responded to by some form of change? Leaders in high performing organizations have been seen to prioritize learning and the challenging of long-standing ideas, methodologies and even offerings. Think about times when you’ve questioned the way things have previously been done and suggested a change to introduce some form of efficiency. How was this received? Was there follow up? Was this redirected? Were you given a piece of candy and sent back to your desk without any real action or consideration?

One of the three ways to build a disruption-proof company culture is for leaders to ‘model’ desired behaviours, or in this case, the desired company culture. When our leaders’ value and encourage a culture of consistent development and challenging of restrictive perspectives, this encourages the rest of the team to follow suit.

2. Real-Time Updates

How often/rapidly does feedback get integrated back into systems or impact already-existing practices? The rate of change that organizations have to respond to in the 2020s is the most rapid that it has ever been. I like giving the example of sports coaches. Have you ever noticed how even from the sidelines, as players engage in a high-stakes match/game, these leaders are recalibrating? Moving players on and off, changing the strategy or making real time decisions about the next game.

Disappointingly, this is not the type of on-the-ball UnLearning and adapting that occurs in most organizations. Management expert Peter Drucker is credited with saying “the greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence, it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” It is therefore critical to have systems that allow today’s ‘logic’ to always thrive and have consistent experiment-based results inform the next move.

3. Experimentation

How long have you worked with the same immediate group of colleagues, the same way, following the same procedures and just doing the same old stuff? As far as you know, what platforms or even parameters are available for experimentation, how often are they made use of and how have they fared?

Now I’m not saying that organizations need to allow every employee to run independent, high-impact experiments in their corners. This is precisely what must be emphasized here. Experimentation is a powerful tool to encourage UnLearning at all levels, so long as there are clear and workable regulated systems that make it both easy to experiment and easy to track and scale. This goes as far deep as ensuring that data is well harvested from the experiment and then used to inform (as mentioned in item #2 on this list) the next step.

4. Learning and UnLearning Platforms

Are there ongoing learning opportunities available, that any employee can engage in, in real time? Do executive members take part in these learning programs?

Research tells that a large number of leaders and the younger members of the workforce will leave an organization if the said organization does not educate them rapidly enough and sufficiently. Unfortunately, and fortunately, not all learning can be managed, but the good news is our organizations can facilitate it. Creating spaces that are conducive to UnLearning and learning is paramount, even the learning that’s a little more challenging to track and monitor.

Online courses and platforms are great resources but are only part of the structured learning side. Keep in mind that when it comes to employee-centric learning strategies, the focus must be on real time learning and UnLearning, as well as what we call on-demand learning.  This is where personalization becomes a great touch that makes a notable difference but can sometimes be challenging to achieve.

5. Future-Skilling

How much of the learning you and your colleagues engage in, are future-skilling you?

Let me explain.

Consistent learning to keep you sharp at what you already do and learning for what you’ll do when you get a promotion (because you will, right?) is all good and well. It is advisable that this type of learning makes up 75% of the learning that employees engage in. This is what we may sometimes term ‘up-skilling’.

The remaining 25% is what I’ve termed ‘The 25% Rule’. The rule stipulates that 25% of what our organizations, platforms and leaders ‘teach’ or what we ‘learn’, must be future-skills learning. So, acquiring knowledge and skills that are based on navigating emerging industry trends. These being, but not restricted to skills that will be key in equipping you to thrive in ‘your’ industry.

One thing to make clear here is that often times, future-skills have little to absolutely nothing to with your current function or portfolio. They are critical, however, because they are your response to disruptive change that will blindside other professionals, but not you!

Last one I’d like to suggest as a side note is…what is the ‘Water-cooler Conversation?’

A large number of employees admit that they have no idea what the intended organizational culture within their companies is. Further to this, many organizations exhibit a disparity between the intended company culture and the ‘water-cooler conversation’. You probably have it by now, that when I say the ‘water-cooler’ conversation, I mean the real culture of our organization. How do things really work around here? Not on the emails, not on the dusty plaque on the wall, but where the rubber hits the road!

So next time you want to know if learning is ingrained in the company culture, stay silent and listen to the ‘water-cooler’ conversations.




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