Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. I retell this story a lot. A few years ago I was a part of a large group of colleagues challenged to discover the secret to, and unlock the potential of, a learning organization.
It was a very well-meaning process to get us to be more efficient, to learn from mistakes / the past, to become more innovative etc. The project bombed, it went nowhere, fast. There was a report delivered, and poorly received. The endeavour was still born.
Years later, having done so much research and having re-engineered my own work patterns to be learning first, I revisited my own participation in the project. I found an email I had sent to the group summarising my own definition of a learning organization. It was this:
We learn to learn together, in order to get the results we want together (after Senge).
I was on to something, though it was opaque at the time. Now, I see clearly. Aligned closely with the need for curiosity, knowing how to learn, unlearn, and relearn is critical for long-term change management success in our careers, especially for knowledge workers.
A startling example of the knowledge worker’s changed circumstances comes from researcher Robert Kelley who asked “What percentage of the knowledge need to do your job is stored in your head?”
In 1986: 75%. Experience counted for something, we worked hard to gain a position of responsibility – people came to us for help.
In 2006: 13%. In one generation, knowledge workers have lost their mind! Researchers have even found that Millennials have rewired neural mapping – whereas old geezers like me map a neural pathway to where we store knowledge in our brain; a Millennial uses the same neural pathway mapping to recall where they can go and find that data again (i.e. on the internet). They have outsourced their knowledge management circuitry.
The future of work – bring it!
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