Learning – Bring diverse opinions into the room

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The Future Business Formula is my new book that provides insights into the changing landscape of business and how organisations can adapt to succeed.

In my latest blog in the countdown to the book’s release in May, I provide an overview of Chapter 11 – Learning – and why you must become a learning organisation to remain competitive.

Principle Eleven – Learning

Continuous learning is the driving force behind Formula 1 teams’ pursuit of excellence. They analyse failures and successes, swiftly implementing solutions and seeking external expertise. Even dominant teams like Mercedes prioritise learning from mistakes. Daily meetings during Grand Prix events foster improvement and problem-solving.

In the ever-changing business landscape, lifelong learning is essential for success. Roles vanish, replaced by new ones, making reinvention through learning crucial. Bureaucracy stifles innovation, creating learned helplessness. Businesses must embrace learning to break free from the status quo and thrive.

Unfortunately, many organisations neglect to foster this type of culture that prioritises employee learning. One of our clients, which had become institutionalised, discovered the power of dedicating time to learning. By implementing daily 30-minute learning sessions, they built a new habit and applied that new knowledge through experimentation.

Learning shouldn’t be limited to personal time or occasional courses; organisations should invest in learning during the workday. It’s crucial to cultivate a growth mindset among employees, recognising that progress takes time and effort. Soft skills are as important as technical skills, especially in a remote work environment where influencing and negotiation skills are vital.

But leaders need to remember that different people have different learning styles, and initiatives should therefore should incorporate visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic elements. Understanding generational differences is also essential – leveraging short books, blogs, and videos for younger generations while accommodating reading and writing preferences for Gen X.

We hear lots about coaching and mentoring, but do businesses and their leaders really understand the difference? In my humble opinion, coaching trumps mentoring when it comes to effective learning. Mentoring can limit growth by relying on the mentor’s knowledge, while coaching empowers individuals to find their own solutions. Coaches ask powerful questions, fostering self-awareness and accountability. Failed attempts become learning opportunities, as the coachee takes ownership of their decisions.

Learning should drive action, leading to behavioural change. Mere enjoyment or emotional reaction isn’t enough. Relevance, accessibility, and experimentation are key for effective learning.

If there is one lesson all business leaders should learn from it is this – don’t let expertise blind you to new possibilities. Kodak’s resistance to digital photography led to their downfall. Expertise should be shared without arrogance, fostering collaboration.

We believe in a normative approach that uncovers dysfunction and it this discovery process that makes people more likely to seek out and adopt new ideas. Businesses should embrace coaching as a management style and prioritise actionable learning for impactful growth. Transparency fuels learning and better decision-making. Prioritise learning in your organisation through self-led development plans, coaching conversations, and incentives. Your team hold the key to success, so ask them what learning they need to make it happen.

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More reading:

Read Principle One: Strategy
Read Principle Two: Customer
Read Principle Three: Alignment
Read Principle Four: Leadership
Read Principle Five: Culture
Read Principle Six: Talent
Read Principle Seven: Innovation
Read Principle Eight: Change & Delivery
Read Principle Nine: Simplification
Read Principle Ten: Organisation Design
Read Principle Twelve: Measurement
More information on The Future Business Formula

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Written by Adrian Stalham
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