Now is a great time for learning. True, many organizations are still struggling to simply survive, let alone worry about learning anything new. The jolt of the economy still has many picking themselves up and dusting themselves off. So, this is not necessarily an easy time for business; but it is an ideal time, indeed an essential time for learning.
Challenging times or not, one reality remains true – leadership and learning are essential to business success. Now is a great time for both. Now is the time to gain the edge, sharpen the skills, and invest in oneself. Now is when work teams, organizations, and entire communities need leadership, vision, clarity, and direction. Now is the time for businesses to build strong supervision and apply practical tools. Now is the time to restore trust. Now is the time to recognize that change is no longer about the future, but is a present reality. New templates, new practices, and new approaches are now in high demand. If you see a problem, you are one of the masses. If you find yourself creating solutions, you are both learning and leading. You are money. Business problems drive leadership and learning. There are a lot of them right now. So, this is a great time for learning. But that learning needs to be relevant, effective, and extremely efficient.
RELEVANT. Learning becomes relevant as it directly impacts the everyday role of the learner, provides solutions to real business problems, and aligns performance to the priorities of the organization. Relevant learning produces competitive, sustainable results. It is not extracurricular to the leader. It is the core work of the leader.
EFFECTIVE. Learning must produce results. It needs to work. It needs to actually produce change in one’s performance. And that performance must actually contribute to an increase in desired results. Accountability is a big factor in ensuring that learning is effective. Do you hold yourself accountable for actually applying what you learn? Do you hold each other accountable? Do you truly expect to see positive change?
EFFICIENT. For learning to be efficient, it must be fast and lean. It needs to happen just-in-time, when it it most relevant. It also needs to fit within the realities of current budget and time constraints. And, it needs to maximize results while minimizing resources. In today’s environment, return on investment is essential, even so in learning. Here are four key questions to constantly ask:
- What did we gain from that learning experience?
- What did it cost us to learn it?
- Was it worth it?
- How can we learn similar things next time more efficiently?
Technology has given us lots of new and exciting methods for learning. Blended approaches and online tools that enable efficient, dynamic, collaborative learning are worth investigation. Organizations that become adept at using these tools find themselves creating whole new habits and competencies. The skill of learning becomes a core competency in and of itself. One that creates tremendous efficiencies.
Here is one very big tip. With all of the online technology that is available today, don’t get sucked into to thinking that online learning is the silver bullet. It is not. On-the-job learning, the kind that happens right within the context of one’s everyday job, is still where the most value can be found. Online tools should be designed and deployed to enhance on-the-job learning. That’s right, on-the-job. It works. One’s immediate work environment is their ideal learning environment. Focus there and your learning solutions will likely be more relevant, effective, and efficient.
Now is a great time for learning. Do it well and you create competitive advantage, foster change readiness, and ensure sustained success. Ignore it and . . . well . . . you will likely enroll in some heavy business lessons anyway. You just won’t see them coming, be able to choose the topic, or control the tuition.
Best of success in your learning and your leading.