Does learning lead to performance?


“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage.” 

— Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO

In today’s disruptive and hyper competitive world, the need for learning new skills and competences come in continuous waves.  Such learning becomes more and more transitory as the skills and competences get replaced by new requirements and technology. There is widespread realisation that it is this increased capacity and hunger for such learning that provides Leadership with its “last frontier of business advantage”.

Because of the disruptive and accelerating changes all around, the capacity for self driven learning within a‘learning organisation’ culture could be the key differentiator. In the book‘The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning’ its authors outline a process which they claim would add significant value to businesses through creation of such a ‘Learning culture’.

The 6D process goes through these stages.

  • Define Business outcomes rather than falling into the trap of defining Learning outcomes.
  • Design the Complete Experience rather than merely a learning event.
  • Deliver for application, which essentially means the learning in itself should motivate its application.
  • Drive Learning transfer. Possibly the most critical stage. This is when ‘Can I?’ shifts to ‘Will I?’
  • Deploy performance support to overcome the resistance mindset to change as one gets down to ‘doing it the new way’.
  • Document results. Did it achieve the results? Was it worth it?

 As I read the book, I am left pondering about what is it that stops organisations from adopting and applying the six disciplines as outlined.

Is it :

  • The absence of a link between what is learnt to how it would support one to personally succeed and get recognised?
  • The law of fast forgetting  one’s new learning  as one gets back into the comfortable rut of old ways?
  • The failure to shift from ‘Can I?’ to ‘Will I?’And the underlying reason for that?
  • The plethora of disparate factors  about one’s own motivation,  existing workflows and processes, the work place culture, the political, economic and social aspects?

If indeed there exist such a large number of factors which come in the way of learning transfer,what could be done to optimise performance? In such a situation, how could we shift people from being disengaged to be innovative, how could we transform an organisation to imbibe a learning mindset and be a leading edge innovator?

To be able to do the above Leadership too needs to Learn. Learn how to use future based generative language to articulate a future which addresses the concerns of all the above disparate stakeholders. A future into which everyone concerned comes to live into with learning and actions in the present to make the future happen.

In learning……..

Shakti Ghosal

Acknowledgement: “THE SIX DISCIPLINES OF BREAKTHROUGH LEARNING” How to Turn Training and Development Into Business Results by Calhoun W. Wick, Roy V. H. Pollock, Andrew Mc K. Jefferson, and Richard D. Flanagan. Published by John Wiley &Sons Inc., Hobokern, New Jersey 2015.

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