I realize, with recent releases like Jane Bozarth’s Social Media for Trainers and Marcia Conner & Tony Bingham’s The New Learning (both recommended, BTW, reviews coming soon, with standard disclaimer that I’m mentioned in both) that the message is finally getting out about new ways to facilitate not just formal learning and execution, but informal learning and innovation. But there’s more needed. It takes new thinking at the top. You need to think about how the enterprise is thinking.
So what do you want for your enterprise thinking? Shows like The Office make us laugh because we identify with it. We know the officious types, the clueless, the apathetic, the malevolent, the greedy, the ones just marking time. They’re definitely not thinking about how to make the organization more successful, they’re thinking more about what will make their life most enjoyable, and there’s little or no alignment. That’s not what you want, I’ll suggest, but is what’s seen, in various degrees, in most places.
Instead, you (should) want folks who know what the goal is, are working towards it individually and collectively. That are continually looking for opportunities to improve the products, processes, and themselves. This is where organizations will derive competitive advantage.
How do you get there? It takes coordinating several things, including the dimensions of the learning organization: leadership, culture, and practices), and the information infrastructure for working well together. You need to have the tools, you need to understand the behaviors required, you need to know that working this way is valued, and you need to be informed as to what the goals are.
We want to be empowering people with the models that help understand the shifts that are happening and how to cope, so they’re part of the movement. They need to understand things like networks and complexity, so that they’re equipped to contribute at the next level.
It’s time to stop thinking patchwork (“we’ll just put in the tools”, or “we’ll move in the direction of more open leadership”), and starting thinking systemically and strategically. Identify and acknowledge where you are now, and figure out a path to get where you need to be. It’s not likely to be easy, but it’s clearly time to get started.