Sometime back, at a ‘Learning & Development’ elective course I was running at Indian Institute of Management Kashipur, one of the participants came to me for a discussion.
“ Sir, you have been emphasizing again and again about the need to have a lifelong Learning mindset. You have also been mentioning about the criticality of the L & D template to remain relevant during unpredictable and disruptive situations in terms of one’s problem solving ability and initiatives. Don’t you think these two aspects are contradictory to each other? “, he said.
This intrigued me. I asked, “How so? Could you clarify some more?”
The participant explained, “In my MBA program, we are learning concepts and tools which allow us to make sense of a business situation and solve problems. They have stood the test of time. But what you have been advocating is to seek completely new way of looking at things to solve problems in uncertain, fast changing environments. So whatever we are learning in our MBA Course would no longer work. To me, that is both scary and disheartening”.
“Well, It is YES and NO”, I replied. “ Your domain knowledge would always continue to play a role. It would be something like a searchlight which will show up a situation in a particular manner, highlighting certain aspects but hiding others. However, the L & D funnel which you would master in our course should allow you to do a Learning Needs analysis in terms of desired outcomes within a shifting environment and spot the needed L&D strategy. In other words, the superstructure that you would need to build on top of your domain expertise would be your new learning need tactics”.
We remain dis-satisfied and uncertain about how to face emerging situations and challenges. Be it on the professional front or may be in our personal life.
“Winning in a disruptive world” would mean succeeding in a business environment that is constantly changing and being disrupted. By new technologies, new competitors, or other factors that can disrupt traditional business models. So, what does one do to win?
The human mind loves continuity and certainty. These allow us to make sense of what we see as stuff we are familiar with. This is why we, our sense making brains, detest change and disruption. For the latter take us into uncertain and unfamiliar territory. We thus like to lull ourselves into believing we are living in a stable world, a world which we understand. We handle new and unfamiliar aspects by distorting and force fitting them into the mental model we hold of the world.
If you have seen the movie, Matrix. It is like living in a never changing, make believe world as the protagonist Neo was doing even though the real world was totally different with its own equations and challenges.
Neo’s real world….
So if we are to draw some lessons from the story of Neo in the matrix, ‘Winning in a disruptive world’ would require a mindset to embrace change and adapt quickly to new circumstances, as well as a focus on innovation, creativity, and agility.
I invite you to dwell on the following questions.
- What are the questions we need to answer in the exploration ‘making sense’ stage of our Learning & Development cycle?
- How do we align the outputs of the ‘making sense’ stage with our critical analysis of the emerging situation?
- How do we carry out a decentering exercise between our domain expertise and the gaps thrown up by our critical analysis?
In Learning…….. Shakti Ghosal