Sourin Roy Chaudhuri
Facilitator and Consultant,
Centre for Behavioral Excellence,
Master These Two Skills to Stay Competitive
Jack Welch had once said, “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage”
Speed of translating learning into rapid action is one of the major bastions of competitive differentiation. The shifts that are happening in business today are groundbreaking! We are all swimming in the treacherous and unpredictable Lake Michigan together!
However, our abilities are different and that’s an incredibly good news! Most of us operate under the illusion that life remains constant and very much within control; what do you think?According to me, this is far from reality. Everything is actually aggressively transmuting. Often the seemingly available choices and situations are murky, uncertain and unclear.
Therefore, to succeed in this eruptive environment, we have to learn to swim substantially better than the others. That’s exactly how we shall be able to get to the shore faster than the rest.
This definitely requires display of an addictive penchant for learning! Learning fast and furiously, the techniques, tactics and tricks of the trade of swimming in ambiguous conditions and applying them swiftly will only determine whether we are going to stay afloat or not. And not only that, as swimmers we need to be enormously open minded and combative to teach and implement the learning even faster so that we can outshine the rest in the game.
GE’s value rose 4000% in 20 years during the tenure of Jack Welch! The data is simply Intriguing! But, facts are facts. Numbers don’t lie. What did he do?
Jackis an open minded leader who is comfortably comfortable with uncertainty and change. He surely possesses the “integrative capability” to knit together evidently unrelated pieces of information and ideas. He is an adept craftsman in translating vagueness into robust propositions and at the same time hammering out novel and innovative solutions out of them.
He had displayed monumental confidence in making spot decisions even in the absence of compelling and complete data when GE was going throughdifficult times. He has always been an authentic listener and was able to adapt exceedingly well to situations. He has always been an incredible problem solver and thought leader. And most importantly he always had a laser sharp focus on where he wanted to go with the organization. In other words, he was undoubtedly learning agile and a trail blazer and above all, he was a true visionary!
It is therefore essential that we focus on two very important capability areas in order to succeed; the first one is,figuring out which direction we want to steer our organization so that it reaches the desired destination on time and the second one is,honing our ability to learn fast and apply the learning even faster.
This quote by Seneca proves the point so beautifully well!
He says, “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable”
So the question is, why should one be so clear about the destination she/he is travelling to? Or in other words, why is there a need for us to have a solid purpose? Well, when we set goals, we inevitably acquire a long term vision and at the same time some short term motivation to stay afloat. It also helps us in organizing the most important available resource, time, and certainly the other related resources as well so that we can make the most out of ourselves in reaching the marked destination!
However, there is a towering hazard! If we start assigning too much value to the paraphernalia that is anyways necessary to aid us pursue our intent, there is a fair possibility of getting superabundantly entangled in the same. Such as, the obligatory facts, information and skills that we secure to help us fulfil the eventual and crucial objective of reaching the journey’s end! The point of disembarkation could be entering a new market/geo, targeting a new industry segment, building a new solutions stack, mergers and acquisitions, restructuring the organization and its processes, rethinking the business strategy, diversification or for that matter even re-architecting the learning ecosystem; anything for that matter to steer the business in the right direction! It is therefore, relevant to stay intensely connected to the fundamental aspiration and design while intelligently leveraging the tools, proficiency, learning and wisdom to succeed in attaining our fateful port.
Honing our ability to clearly define our destination is therefore, incredibly important so that we don’t get swayed away by temptations and prejudices. Staying sharply focused on where we want to go will automatically help us strengthen the other related skills.
Next is to perfect our ability to learn and simultaneously apply that learning quickly in order to stay relevant.
Seymour Aubrey Papert, who spent most of his career teaching and researching at MIT had once commented, “You can’t teach people everything they need to know. The best you can do is position them where they can find what they need to know when they need to know it”
As responsible leaderswe do carry the obligation to impart knowledge to our people. But, at the same time, is it possible to tutor them on everything they need to know? The answer is ‘impossible!’ The objective should be to enable the workforce with artifacts that they can access at will and their convenience.
So, how do we create an environment where our people feel empowered 24/7? How can we ensure that these learners are able to find stuff they need in order to strengthen their knowledge on specific subjects? One of the ways to make certain that learning resources are easily available is to begin curating them.
But, then we need to assume the additional burden of maintaining and securing a robust and stable repository. The other option is to go mobile. Mobile is the future of workplace learning. It is not just a casual statement, but something the L&D world today strongly believes in.
Well the medium doesn’t really matter. It is all about kindling the desire in people to learn.
Self-learning definitely requires the learner to take responsibility for learning. The foremost element is awareness. Our efforts should be directed towards creating this much needed cognizance among our work force so that they are able to discern, decipher and synthesize. Automatically, we’ll see a positive change in their ability to manage themselves as well as the ecosystem effectively.
Once our people are able to internalize these two very important skills, we can surely look forward to growth and success in business as well as in personal lives.