What are the biggest blockers preventing us from learning as fast as we can

Fast business with driving businessman

© Tweeter Linder 2017 – All rights reserved. Photo by iStock

In the new digital business reality, businesses experience a shift in importance.  From being best at knowing to master learning. Putting learning and learning fast front and center among as objectives for teams and team members. But shifting from knowing well to learning well can be a step challenge for many team members. Here are 7 common blockers for learning fast. And what you can do to circumvent them.

Personal satisfaction with working in areas we know well

Knowing your shit is more attractive than knowing you’re shit. A reality shaping our inner force to know our job well. Refined over many years of practice. in both qualitative and quantitative dimensions. This is not bad when we are good at will be important in the future. But challenge if what you know will be important tomorrow. Or if what you know is at risk of taken over by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

Challenge yourself by stepping outside of your knowledge comfort zone.

A culture promoting always being right

A common ingredient in business cultures is to promote the best people. The better you are in your current role. The higher the chance for a promotion in your field of expertize. Such cultures tend to reward being right. And avoid being wrong. Often at the expense of taking decisions too late. Or selecting options that are too close to status quo to make large enough leaps forward. Both being dangerous in a digital business.

Dare to make mistakes. Take pride in learning from them. Share your learnings to peers. Few learnings will come from doing right. And see signals from peers sharing from mistakes as great colleagues to learn from.

Limited time to invest in personal development

Professional and private priorities battle for time on our agendas. A battle where personal development often loose out. We execute on the urgent priorities at work. We give priority to be a great parent, friend and sibling. Putting our own professional development at stake.

Dedicate 15 minutes per day to professional development. Short enough to happen daily. Long enough to learn a new element each day.

Limited exposure to tasks allowing us to learn new

You might be in a role where you need to execute repetitive tasks. Limiting the opportunities to learn from new experiences. Executing well on well-defined tasks is important. But such tasks can be subject to automation in the future. Good news is even the most well-defined tasks are subject to innovation.

Ask for new tasks beyond your current responsibilities. Either by rotating with peers. Or by taking on new tasks no one is addressing today. Aspire to be the one on your team that is part of innovating and sharing. And use extreme reflection to reflect on each new task. What did I learn? How can I apply it for a similar task tomorrow? Who else in my company can enjoy these learning.

Limited access to role models sharing their insights

The best for a given task in any given team are great to learn from. But these team members are often hard to learn from. Either they are hard to get access to. Or they are not well at sharing their insights and learning. And in some cases, they are not interested in sharing what have made them achieve status as a valuable team member.

Offer to be the one interviewing the roles models. Quick coaching like sessions where you extract their insights. And package learnings for a broader audience. Your benefit from learning from your most insightful peers. You benefit from learning deeper by packaging the insights for other colleagues. And no digital business can afford to not learn from the first learners, and do it fast.

Conversations around us conducted in a too complicated language

Businesses influenced by digital technologies, see a new set of language barriers come into play. Where tech lingo, buzzwords and acronyms push our understanding out on thin ice. Obsessive use of tech lingo and acronyms is often a signal the person talking, do not know what they are talking about. And use a complicated language and a fast-paced speaking, to sway an audience. This behavior is perhaps the most dangerous in delaying or holding back learnings in a team.

Strive to communicate in clear sentences. Leaving tech lingo, buzzwords and three letter acronyms behind. Introducing digital to new businesses is not about making technology complicated. It is about enabling solutions to business problems fueled by a cultural development.

Lack of trust in colleagues to ask stupid questions

In a knowledge centric world, we became kings and queens by knowing. Always having an answer to the questions asked. Always doing our tasks in the correct way. But in the digital world another old wisdom is in play. “When everything is clear, the window of opportunity is gone”.

Shift your focus from having the best answers to asking the best questions. And develop a library of great questions to ask. After a bit of practice you will come across as the intelligent one in the room. Create trust with questions. And trust your ability to ask well.

Questions to ask yourself and your team

  1. What prevent us from learning – as a team and as individuals. Check which of the 7 areas above that might be holding you back.
  2. How do we learn from the first learners – be clear if you aspire to learn first and share. Or learn from peers
  3. What is the source for the most valuable insights – learning from the outside or from with our business.

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