5 ways to build continuous learning into your workflow

By Guest Author August 22, 2018

Stephen Walsh of Anders Pink makes the case for continuous learning as the way to stay relevant in the new organisation.

‘It doesn’t matter what you knew yesterday, it’s how you’re going to find out what’s worth knowing tomorrow’….

1 Have a goal
You have to want to. If the basic motivation to learn something new isn’t there, no amount of other tricks will work. In his great work on forming new habits, American behaviour scientist B.J. Fogg says you need three conditions to do this: Motivation, Ability and Prompt.

No motivation? Then forget about it. What motivates you to develop a continuous learning habit? It could be passion for self-improvement or natural curiosity. That’s an ideal intrinsic motivation. If you need one reason, try this: you’re placing a bet on your future career. All of our skills and knowledge depreciate over time, faster than we might think. Albert Einstein said that once we stop learning we start dying; an appropriate twenty-first century addition might be, ‘If you stop learning, you’ll stop earning.’

2 Be social
We are better when we collaborate. The idea of inspiration striking the reclusive genius is alluring but rarely applies in the workplace. Sharing your ideas, building a network of experts who can help you, is a vital step in modern workplace learning. Collaborative and social learning platforms and networks have developed in response to this (the water cooler still works, too, by the way).

3 Choose diverse sources…
Steve Jobs designed the Pixar building with this in mind: a large atrium to allow diverse unpredictable conversations that might promote and flourish collaboration. But most workplace learning isn’t particularly random. You do things in teams with the same people most of the time. If you choose a wide range of sources for your continuous learning habit you’ll allow for more serendipity.

4 …but be selective
While being diverse is important, staying on top of the best content in your given field is far more important. A major blocker to effective continuous learning is too much of the wrong information. The International Data Corporation estimated that we spend 25% of our time searching for and processing information. If we’re searching inefficiently or looking in the wrong places – untrustworthy sites, out-of-date courses, flicking through social feeds looking
for something and wondering where the last hour went – it’s slowing down our learning process and clogging up our capacity with the wrong stuff. Escape the echo chamber and stay efficient by focusing on a diverse selection of high-quality, trusted sources.

5 Look outside…
In organisation-learning settings our sources for learning tend to be quite narrow. We commission courses or create resources to address defined goals. But we need to look beyond them. Three million blog posts are published every day, and some of them will be relevant to you and your audiences, so you need to look beyond fixed, event-based formal learning to stay up to date every day. Of people polled for the Towards Maturity 2016 benchmark report, 60% say they learn more from external sources than they do from formal courses. As the leadership development expert Josh Davis has pointed out, Google and YouTube are the training departments for many in the workplace.

The key message to L&D professionals is to look beyond your internal courses and resources to efficiently find what’s relevant and empower people to do it for themselves.

This is an extract from The Curve – Issue Seven. Click here to download the full magazine – for leaders in learning.

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