I agreed to be part of the third edition (this coming Monday) of Dave Ferguson’s Work/Learning Blog Carnival, and I start from a contrarian perspective, because I think “learning can, and should, be hard fun“. That is, properly done, learning is a positive experience, where you’ve balanced the challenge, set up the initial meaningfulness, have the learner playing an interesting role, providing the appropriate support and feedback, etc. I suppose the point is that the ‘hard’ part of the fun is work, but it isn’t toil or tedium. So, the distinction between the two is suspect. However, my principles about engaged learning are typically when we design the experience for another, but the topic here is, to me, self-learning.
And I do believe passionately in self-learning; if I’m not learning, I may as well be dead. Play is learning, and I intend to keep playing.. :) So I blog, and talk to colleagues, and continually challenge myself with new tasks (like accepting this opportunity). But I do it mindfully, deliberately pacing the challenge, searching for personal meaningfulness, and finding the fun in it all. I take responsibility for making it hard fun. I think the most successful people are those who can find not a balance, but an integration between work and learning.
Let me take it to the next step, now, talking about organizational learning. In addition to the obvious implications of how we design learning experiences, I think the less obvious implication, but perhaps the more important one, is helping people to become not only toiling self-learners, but joyful self-learners.
To me, the increasing rate of change means that fixed competencies – the notion that an organization can anticipate, design, and deliver the needed learning – is going to go away. The true competitive advantage will not be in just hiring the needed skills, but in developing folks who can continue to self-learn. Too many are still tied into the “we can hire the talent”, but the folks who’ve done well in school have succeeded in a system that doesn’t match the way the world outside of school works. And there’ll be increasing competition for the folks who demonstrably can succeed in a dynamic environment. Trusting that you can acquire sufficient talent seems like a riskier bet than instilling that capability in the organization.
Imagine really unleashing your organization. Yes, it’s Senge’s Learning Organization, and more. We know what this entails, but I’m still searching for organizations who really want to execute against it.