Sam’s learning to do the accounts. There’s no avoiding it anymore. As he said last night, ‘it’s a bit boring, but when you get into it, it’s quite exciting‘. If nothing else, Sam is methodical, so it’s typical that his approach is to listen to some podcasts, ask for advice, read some books, try things out. He is an agile learner.
And whilst he may not be an expert accountant (yet), he is an expert learner. Over the years, he’s finely tuned and honed his methodologies for learning, meaning that when necessity demands, he’s ready. We can, if you like, separate our mechanisms for learning from the subject matter that we are going to learn. It is possible to be an expert learner without being an actual expert! Knowledge is no longer enough.
Today, our value lies more in our agility than our actual knowledge: our ability to find things our, to work within our personal learning networks, to create value through action, to learn. It’s great to be an expert, but it’s not enough: expertise goes out of date if we are not agile. Our ability to transform, to deliver change and deliver results, these are what count.
The move towards a more social world, towards a place where our learning communities and activities transcend time and place, transcend organisational boundaries make us more agile and better able to adapt, or at least it does if we are able to respond.
Our organisational stance towards learning and development needs to take this change into account. Our mindset needs to be less about individual training projects and performance management and more about holistic views of change, flexible leadership structures (to reflect agile expertise) and greater ability to respond to change at speed. So much organisational structure is around control that we can fail to recognise the value of letting things go.
Innovation and creativity are functions of freedom, of the ability to play, experiment and fail, to learn through doing this and to develop our actual capacity to learn. If we just assess people to pass or fail, or if we fail to create space for experimentation, then we inhibit the ability of both people and organisations to develop, to change, to remain relevant in todays world that rewards agility.
Just as Sam recognises the need to adapt, to develop, so too do organisations need to. Remaining the same is not an option: but are we flexible enough, agile enough, to support and allow the learning that will keep us ahead?
Adopting and embracing social learning spaces, joining in these conversations, nurturing and developing individual capability (social capital) in these spaces and actually listening to the learning that is narrated out of it, these are the marks of an agile organisation.