The one thing (I sound like Curly in “City Slickers”.) thatwill lift us out of the depths of our struggling economy and sustain economic growth for years to come, more than anything else, is learning. Daniel Pink says that any routine task will be outsourced (probably to Asia) and the jobs that remain will require creativity and empathy. I contend that constant learning is the key to this “right brain” way of thinking. To be creative and empathic, people need continuous input of information. They need to learn about different points of view, different ways of doing things, different scenarios, new skills, and learn how to apply all of that new information to solving problems. Continuous learning in this way will be the key to competitiveness and success in the future. This is not happening in most organizations today.
People are motivated to learn and we have the technology to facilitate learning effectively and efficiently. That’s not the problem. The problem is the many organizational barriers to learning. These barriers are explained in the clear and practical book, The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development Into Business Results. I finally got around to reading (The book was published in 2006, but I’m a slow reader.) this excellent explication of what “learning leaders” must do in their organizations:
- Define training and development in terms of business outcomes
- Design the before, during, and after of training and development programs
- Deliver the programs in a way that application to achieving business results is clear
- Drive the process of application and accountability for learning
- Deploy support for transfer of learning to achieving business goals
- Document and use the results of training and development programs
I like the Six Disciplines book because it picks up from where my 1994 co-authored book, The Learning Alliance: Systems Thinking in Human Resource Development, left off. And I think the Six Disciplines supports Sean Murray’s and my 5As Framework for managers to apply in supporting a learning culture (including any learning intervention, e.g., coaching) in their organizations. Underlying the six disciplines are the 5As: 1) alignment; 2) anticipation; 3) alliance; 4) application; and 5) accountability. Regardless of whether its 5As or 6Ds, the point is to create a learning culture that contributes to business success.