If we already know how to do something, it appears that there’s nothing to learn. We are already expert, and in most organisations an Expert is a great thing to be. But if we want people to learn, then those people have to accept that there are things they don’t yet know.
That’s relatively easy when it’s abstract - ‘oh yes, there’s always more to learn’ - but a lot trickier if what they don’t yet know is important stuff that would make them better at their job. That’s because it’s tantamount to admitting that they are not at the top of their game. And that is tough to do in a competitive arena where weakness is frowned upon or turned to your disadvantage.
If you want people to be curious, then ‘not-knowing’ has to be OK. How can that be encouraged in an instant-answer-now and an expertise-valued environment?
Something I learned while facilitating a three-day event for a 30-member team from various continents was that the impacts of a change programme can be slow to manifest. In itself that’s not an issue - unless your objectives include instant results.
Still, there’s plenty you can do in the meantime to ensure that the results turn out favourably. You can do a great deal to re-assure yourself, your clients, your funders, that you are on the right tracks. It’s called 'positioning for impact'.
Historic England looks after the country’s heritage. It’s almost a solutions-focused organisation by definition as its very purpose is to look for what’s worthwhile in the past and do what needs to be done now to preserve it for the future. That’s what we do with our clients too: help them appreciate the resources that they have which will fuel their progress to the future they want.
If you want change in your organisation, change the conversations
A brief history of coaching
Coaching has taken a couple of decades to establish itself as a profession and management tool. The rise of coaching means managers are pretty familiar with the idea of a structured dialogue with a colleague, usually one of the manager’s direct reports.
The coaching is typically aimed at sorting out a problem, clarifying goals or encouraging better performance.
Results vary, depending not only on the skill of the coach, but also on the approach that the coach decides to take. A lot of time gets wasted with problem-saturated approaches, and managers are missing wonderful opportunities to make a worthwhile difference.
'What is learning?' When this question was posed at a recent Organisational Development network meeting, several people's thoughts went straight back to school. In classrooms, they said, particularly during the early years, they were dragged through a fixed process with little decision or choice. Later, they and their colleagues chose to learn - some of them, at least.
When learning, we can distinguish between learning facts and learning how to do things. Repeating facts is rather different from knowing how to do something. In organisations, we are often more interested in people learning to do things, often tasks that can be defined and in many cases measured. We call these ‘skills’ when they are desirable or useful.