Learning Re-Imagined

Skillsoft Blog

Throw Back Thursday: leadership development

We receive so much valuable content
from our customers, partners and internal subject-matter experts. On Thursdays,
we thought it would be fun to do a “throw back” and bring back an older post
that was valuable to our audience. Today’s throw back is about leadership
development.

Are you a cross-pollinating sequential learner?

By Shawn
Hunter

“Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve
Board, recognized the role of conceptual output as early as 1997 in a speech at
the University of Connecticut when he said “The growth of the conceptual
component of output has brought with it accelerating demands for workers who
are equipped not simply with technical know-how, but with the ability to
create, analyze, and transform information and to interact effectively with
others.” By 2004, he had developed his views on the topic, referring to reductions
in manufacturing in the United States, outsourcing to India and China, excess
of supply and the global marketplace, all leading to the increasing
conceptualization of economic output.”

Taking a page straight from Dan Pink and Gary Hamel,
knowledge and even expertise are common, expected, cheap (sometimes free) to
source, and no longer represent lasting competitive advantage. We have moved
from the knowledge age to the conceptual age where creative, symphonic thinking
– the ability to harness sometimes seemingly disparate pieces of information
and ideas and mash them into wholly new iterations that can be applied
effectively to solutions and results – are in fact the individual and
organization’s competitive advantage.

Whatever field you work in, your expertise is expected,
but your initiative and creativity to bring unique and signature solutions to
solve unexpected problems is your brand, and increasingly also your company’s
brand and identity. If this is true (and you better believe it), the future of
learning is to provide more conceptual and powerful learning opportunities in
which the expected learning outcomes are by nature, unexpected. Sometimes
called chaotic or unstable by design, this construct suggests building learning
opportunities which offer insight, ideas and parables intended for inference
and application by the learner.


This calls for balancing the spoon-fed,
outcome-anticipated, specific-competence results-oriented learning environments
with more conceptual learning environments which treat learners as ready and
able to distill ideas presented into their own signature integrated solutions
applicable for their line of work and customers, whether they be internal or
external.

Tom Kelley, CEO of IDEO, a premier product and services
innovation company, has been a long advocate of this approach. In his book, The
Ten Faces of Innovation, he describes a particular persona called the
“Cross-Pollinator.” Cross-Pollinators are those types who are inquisitive
beyond their particular domain expertise and explore ideas from industries
outside their immediate purview, come to understand the technology, device or
methods employed elsewhere and figure out how to incorporate these ideas into
their own work.

How might this look like in learning environments?  To compete with the wild web, these learning
environments will provide media and socially rich environments which aid
learners to deduct applications from disparate sources.  The conceptual age learning environment will
offer a deep portfolio of ideas and solutions garnered from varieties of
domains. For example, a sales learning environment will not only offer
presentation tips and niche industry knowledge but perhaps also ways in which
organizations well outside their own have leveraged technology to gain their
customer attention. For example, Sugarloaf Ski resort has been admired for
their ability to use social media to update the faithful.

Foremost, emerging learning environments will understand
that people have their own intrinsic motivators, often contrary to what their
company or manager thinks is their primary motivator (drop the carrots and
sticks paradigm).  When really what
motivates the learner is passion, purpose and curiosity.  Learning opportunities will only resonate
when they intersect with someone’s current passion, fulfills their sense of
purpose and giving, and peaks their curiosity.

Learning opportunities are plentiful and the expectations
are rising, and to be compelling whatever you are offering must be beautiful,
unique and meaningful.

 

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