Learning is a muscle – so what is your 2012 exercise resolution?

Learning is a process; it enhances a person’s capacity to do something.  “Learning is about building the capability to create that which you previously couldn’t create.  It’s ultimately related to action, which information is not” (Senge, 2006, p.191).  As I look to the New Year, I ponder what I can do to build capacity in those I serve. 

It is easy to fall into the traditional view of learning, what Edgar Schein called the “3 types”.  We can work on habit & physical/technical skills, emotional conditioning and learned anxiety (think Pavlov), and knowledge acquisition where we focus on our metacognitive skills to “learn and apply”. Yet as I review the process of learning and creating something new, I would propose it is time to move past these types, it is time to build the learning community with the goal of creating an environment where the individual reaches their highest level of personal mastery.  Senge observed that personal mastery is the cornerstone of the learning organization so for our organizations to flourish we must commit to a continuous improvement cycle across all organization levels, “we” are indeed smarter than “me” no matter how high in the organization “me” sits. 

I believe we need to foster community for a number of reasons.  First, we need to ensure that our newer employees are skilled and comfortable to engage with diverse workgroups.  It is easy in the land of apps to lose sight of the critical thinking and collaboration skills needed in the workplace.  Second, if an organization is going to nimbly respond to changes in the marketplace it must trust its skilled workforce earlier, in a “learning organization, it is no longer possible for expert supervisors to know everything that subordinates must know.” (Marquardt, 2011, p.46)  Finally, with a workforce that is becoming more diverse by age groups, working around time and distance challenges with mobile solutions, and a workforce more connected to a type of work more than a company we need to keep and store/share the intellectual capital these employees create.   

So as 2012 beckons I am resolved to create new learning muscles by creating learning moments that intersect with people where they are, I will work out with the community, stretch to connect them to the structure and strategy of the organization, and increase my cardio as I build a vision that includes a stronger, empowered, and engaged “we”.  What is your resolution?

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