Learning is probably the number one trait that the most vibrant and dynamic cultures possess. Growth is enabled through learning. Learning enables them to remain nimble, resilient and innovative n the face of constant change. Here are 5 reasons cultures should be focused on learning.
Culture, at its core, is a set of behavioral norms and tacit assumptions of what it takes to be successful. It is dependent on events – whether successes or failures. A company’s culture must evolve in response to the every changing world we live in. Or else risk being made a corporate relic of the past. Just ask Blockbuster, Borders, Kodak, Aol or Yahoo. This means becoming a learning culture. One that is able to re-test assumptions.
If one of the best ways to learn is through failure, why do so many companies avoid it like the plague? The fear of failure must be faced and it begins with leaders. Leaders must encourage disciplined risk-taking through experimentation. Assumptions must be validated quickly well before the final product is rolled out. Oh, and by the way, rolling out an inferior product to an entire division or business unit is not an MVP.
Let your customers be your teachers. They have the greatest to offer companies eager to be innovative. And no, this doesn’t mean asking them what they want. It’s about being human-centered in the approach to product development. Assess their actual needs. What jobs are they attempting to get done? This creates the shortest path to innovations.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, you as an employee has at least two jobs. The first is the one you were hired to do. The second is to get grow and become an even better version of the person you were when you were hired. Employees must seek to be curious about their job and things adjacent. Books, articles, podcasts, videos or networking are avenues employees can use to apply learning outside of just doing the work.
Jim Collins Level 5 Leadership model describes great companies with great cultures as possessing great leaders that are humble and have a great professional will. Humility is an acknowledgment of the fact that you don’t know everything. That your way isn’t perfect and there can always be a better way. Humility is really a gateway drug. It leads to curiosity, which leads to a learning binge. Learning can hopefully then results in an innovation high.
Learning is the key to the positive evolution of culture. It involves the risk of failure and the leadership to be creatively courageous. Learning is essential to innovation. At the end of the day, learning is everyone’s responsibility. This is all enabled by a willingness to confront one’s own ignorance – aka humility.