Take a look at this image: 
sleeping man - unlearning workshop

Can you see a sleeping man in the image? That’s great!

Now I’d like you to take a look at the image again. This time, I’d like you to identify the sleeping woman in the image…

Was that a little trickier or perhaps you still can’t see her?

Whichever it was, that’s quite alright because it proves the following: we have dozens of learnt perceptions, thoughts, habits and procedures that have become such a big part of who we are that we struggle to respond any differently. When it comes to developing adaptive capacity in your teams though, this scenario is unfortunately not so ‘alright’.

Considering that adaptive organisations and leaders must strive for their teams to embody creativity as a crucial element of any processes, developing your team’s ability to view things differently, or a little more ‘out the box’,  is certainly a skill that needs to be developed when striving for adaptability.

Think of it this way: A member of your team has been viewing the ‘box’ in a single way for the past ten years that they have been involved with your organisation. Consider that they only perceive the ‘box’ this way because they’ve bought into the ‘that’s the way we do things at company x’ line.

When innovation time rolls around or this member of your team finds herself in a group aimed at coming up with exciting, novel ideas, you can bet your bottom dollar that she will struggle to view the ‘box’ in ways not previously permitted. This not only applies to innovation, but also transitions such as; working from home/remote working, going back to the office, promotions, salary cuts, redundancy, company mergers and leadership changes. 

As leaders, this is a challenge we encounter continuously. Especially in an attempt to motivate our teams as they navigate new terrains and diverge from what had come to be called the ‘norm’. Most leaders are clear on the need for change, but are not too sure how to get their teams to embrace it

As implied by the ‘sleeping man’ image, teams find any form of transition and learning challenging when there is an absence of ‘self-disrupting’ the processes and ideas previously embraced. Or as I like to say it, unless you practice ‘unlearning’, any transition or learning will be further challenging.

If our teams fail to become better unlearners, traits such as agility, flexibility and adaptability cannot thrive. Unlearning is the primary way to respond to a changing environment, and allows us to at one time view a sleeping man, and then just as effortlessly transition to seeing a sleeping woman in the exact same image. Still not seeing her?

Here’s the good news: UnLearning does not occur automatically and there is no magic switch that you and I can flick to assist us with it, rather it’s an ongoing process, one of continuous adaptation. What’s more is that we can learn key principles that will make us robust unlearners, helping us pique our creativity as teams that are working towards agility, adaptability and flexibility.

If you’re a leader who would like to begin the journey of developing your team’s adaptive capacity today, then I invite you to our upcoming UnLearning Virtual Workshop:

The workshop will be held online, on the 27th of August from 3pm – 4:30pm SA Time at R 200.00 per attendee.

This will be an interactive session of UnLearning tips and tricks for transitioning teams such as yours. The workshop will present you with tools to share with your team, enabling them to transition and thrive in these ambiguous times.

And yes, I’ll also help you see the sleeping woman. Please register here: https://qkt.io/unlearningworkshop

Due to the interactive nature of the sessions, the group will be kept to a small number, so ‘virtual seats’ are limited. The meeting details will be emailed to you after registration.

I look forward to equipping you to deal with the transitions your team is currently needing to work through as we navigate our ‘Covid world’.

Here’s that link again: https://qkt.io/unlearningworkshop


About the author of today’s Tuesday Tip – Zanele Njapha

In the face of disruptive change, Zanele assists organisations to navigate various transitions and become future-fit by cracking the unlearning code. 
She does this by facilitating the understanding that learning, unlearning and relearning must be the crux and heart of an organisation’s DNA if they are serious about sustained relevance in a shifting climate.
Connect with Zanele on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zanelenjapha 

Email [email protected] 
for more information or to contact Zanele.

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