How do people (front-line employees to C-level executives) learn in organizations? This is a question I have been thinking and writing about for years. Structured, leader-centered training and development programs are the usual default when individuals and groups need to enhance their knowledge and skills. These programs might be necessary but they are not sufficient. A recent issue of Bnet.com reminded me of a critical element: a learning mind-set. That blog cites a 2003 article by Jonathan Gosling and Henry Mintzberg in Harvard Business Review that indirectly contributes to our understanding of the dimensions of this way of thinking. Those authors were not talking about organizational learning per se, but I believe that their “Five Minds of a Manager”, represents the thought-process that all employees (non-managers as well as managers) need for continual learning in organizations. These mind-sets, as described in Bnet.com, are:

A reflective mind-set allows you to be thoughtful, to see familiar experiences in a new light, setting the stage for insights and innovative products and services.
An analytical mind-set ensures that you make decisions based on in-depth data--both quantitative and qualitative.
A worldly mind-set provides you with cultural and social insights essential to operating in diverse regions, serving varied customer segments.
A collaborative mind-set enables you to orchestrate relationships among individuals and teams producing your products and services.
An action mind-set energizes you to create and expedite the best plans for achieving your strategic goals.

A reflective mind-set and action mind-set are essential for learning. Reflection makes information and skills relevant and meaningful to the learner and action is the evidence that learning has occurred. But we can’t reflect without the feedback that comes from an analytical view of all of the various forms of data that bombards us throughout the day (analytical mind-set). And that data must be seen within the context of our world today, one that is diverse in backgrounds, cultures, ideas, and styles of working (worldly mind-set). Finally, a collaborative mind-set is what exposes us to new and better interpretations of information and helps us decide the best course of action.

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