Learning to Learn
Today, organizations are constantly changing. Industries are consolidating, new business models are emerging, new technologies are being developed and consumer behaviors are changing. For executives, the pace of change may be particularly demanding. This forces them to understand and respond quickly to major changes in the way companies function and how the work should be done. In the words of Arie de Geus, business theorist, “the ability to learn faster than its competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.”
I do not mean casual chair or structured classroom learning. I speak of resisting bias by doing new things, analyzing the horizon in search of growth opportunities, and pushing to radically gain different capacities, while continuing to do their job. This requires a willingness to experiment and become a beginner again and again: a concept extremely inconsistent for most of us.
For decades, training and mentoring thousands of executives in a variety of industries, my colleagues and I have met people who are successful in this type of learning. We have identified four attributes that have in abundance: aspiration, self-awareness, curiosity and vulnerability. They really want to understand and master new skills; They see very clearly; They constantly think and ask good questions; And they tolerate their own mistakes as they progress through the learning curve.
Of course, these things are more natural to some people than to others. However, based on research in psychology and management, as well as our work with clients, we identify fairly simple mental tools that each can develop to stimulate four attributes – even those that are often considered fixed (aspiration, Curiosity and vulnerability).
It is easy to see the aspiration to be there or not: you want to learn a new skill or you do not; You have ambition and motivation or you forget about it. But great students can increase their level of aspiration – and this is essential, because everyone is guilty of sometimes resisting development that is critical to success.
Think about the last time your company has adopted a new approach – a revised information system replaces a CRM platform, reorganized the supply chain. Who were eager to move on? I doubt it. His initial response was probably justified he does not learn. (It will take a long time. The old way works fine for me I bet it’s just an impulse …) When faced with a new learning, it is often our first obstacle that we focus on the negative and unconsciously reinforce our aspiration lack.
When we learn something, we focus on the positive: what we learn from learning, and the vision of a happy future in which we reap these rewards. This brings us to action. Researchers found that transferring their attention from the challenges to benefits is a good way to increase their desire to make things initially unappealing. For example, when Nicole Detling, a psychologist at the University of Utah, encouraged pilots and speed skaters to imagine particular competition, who were much more motivated to practice.
A few years ago, I supervised a CMO to hesitate to know the most important data. While most of his fellow converts become, he was convinced he did not have time to get there and would not be so important to the industry. I finally realized that it was an aspiration problem and I encouraged him to think of ways to improve the targeted marketing data to help personally. He acknowledged that it would be helpful to learn more about how different segments of customers responded to your team’s online advertising and marketing campaigns. Then I asked him to imagine the situation that would be in a year later if he puts that data. He began to show enthusiasm, saying: “We testerions different approaches at the same time in stores and online; We must have good solid information on which to work and for whom, and we could save time and money by pulling less effective approaches faster . “I could almost feel his growing desire.