Learning is a Personal Affair!

Ever wondered why sometimes it’s hard to ignite a passion for learning in an organisation? Thousands if not millions of dollars are spent on very good learning platforms – various communication mediums are then used by the Learning & Development (L&D) communications are then sent to everyone to use. Sometimes some elements of ‘courses completed’ metrics are tagged on to performance objectives to try and ignite a learning organisation and promote capability growth. Ever wondered why this doesn’t stick?  


What is Learning?

For me, Learning is an intimate, curious journey to discover new insights in order to grow myself and in turn grow everything else I am a part of – this includes growing others around me.

Put simply, learning is inward-focused and all efforts to ignite a passion for learning in any organisation should start with a simple question to everyone – “What are you curious about?”

Why is this important?

Psychologically when we are asked the question “What do you want?” and “Why is it important?” we connect ourselves to our inner core values and our purpose in life/career.

The focus of the heart and mind switches to creating a future self where we can vividly project the desired state. That desired state, re-wires the heart and mind to make it happen; stirring up curiosity, desire, drive and a key ingredient of the self – co-creating the what. This is what happens when you ask your people what they want in terms of learning.

Through autonomy and motivation for the individual, a passion for how to make the learning happen is sparked.

By engaging the individual first, you also get to understand their preference of learning; self, group, classroom etc and cater for that need.

This, through my experience is how you start to create a learning culture.

How does this look like when starting with the individual?

Learning happens at all these levels. The individual grows themselves through discovery and insights, they apply the learning within their team deliverables, shares that learning and insights with peers which have a multi-faceted benefit to customers (through the product being built), the team (through horizontal capability uplift), the organisation (through motivated employees who are applying their learnings to themselves, into the products, and growing each other through sharing)  

Let me also introduce you to Anthony Gregorc’s Mind Styles (others exist), which amplifies the importance of getting to know your people at the individual level and how they learn. We are all created differently after all and understanding what to provide starts with the individual.

Gregorc, speaks of two continuums for how individuals prefer to perceive and order new information; Perceptual (Concrete or Abstract) or Ordering (Sequential which is linear or Random which is non-linear)

Perceptual preference is how one prefers to grasp or perceive information. Ordering preference is how one prefers to arrange or process information.

The 4 Mind Styles; Concrete Sequential (CS), Abstract Sequential (AS), Concrete Random (CR) and Abstract Random (AR).

A key point Gregorc makes is that no one is a “pure” style. This is a key point because humans love to put things into containers and labels – sometimes there’s a benefit when it comes to material things. When it comes to human beings, labeling and putting people into containers doesn’t work so well.

So What…

The relevance here is to invest the time into connection – to your people, curiosity – what makes them tick and what are they yearning to learn, care – the heart to provide the best for them so that they can flourish and be their best.

Yes it’s an investment of time and money to make learning a personal affair to each and every employee you have but would you rather get it right by doing the right thing or spend time and money year in year out rolling out millions spent of training content and licences that goes unused, doesn’t ignite a passion for learning and marginalises what your people truly care about – shhhh… secret: it’s almost always things they want to learn to be their best in their job and career.

Now  What…

What to do if you are looking to create a learning organisation? Or at least, spark a passion for learning in your organisation from a small group of people (a team, a department) and grow it out. – whoa this sounds big.

Before we begin to get stuck in with some ideas, let’s just take a moment to pause and take some deep breaths with a quick guided meditation.

Sit comfortably in a natural upright position. Feet grounded on the floor and relax your body firmly into your seat. Notice the way your body is seated into the chair in your natural relaxed state… Close your eyes (if you wish to)… Take a few big inbreath through the nose and exhale after each inbreath through your mouth. Bring your breathing slowly to its natural flow… Now, imagine individuals in teams…, in departments…, in the entire organisation. See them happy in their ‘happy learning places’. See them with genuine smiles on their faces. Notice the smile emanating on your face. What does that feel like for you? Notice the sensations in your body…acknowledge it, appreciate it, welcome it.

If you know some of the faces you are imagining by name, call them by name and say “I got you”. Repeat for as many names you wish to say “I got you” for.

Finally, call out the organisation by name and say “all learners in <Replace with Company Name>, I got you!” Take a few more deep breaths and bring yourself back. Let’s begin…

Here are some ideas for you to consider if you want to awaken or ignite a passion for learning in your organisation;

  1. reflect and take stock what your vision is for igniting learning in your organisation

“True intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.” – Eckhart Tolle

Clarity is often found in stillness. By pausing and reflecting and taking stock of where you are with your organisational learning development approach, you can re-center yourself and your department on your “Why Learning” vision. See Hook’d Method below. Start with the What do you want? and Why is it important? questions at the base.

  • Facilitate a series of conversations

Following the prompts on Hook’d, ask the questions as you gain clarity on your vision for learning in the organisation; Who benefits? and who are we becoming in this desired state of ignited or awakened learning organisation?

The facilitate conversations who all those people you identified in the Who benefits piece to ask them what they care about when it comes to learning. What are they curious to learn and discover and how to best support them and co-create how to achieve best to deliver it for them – back to the focus on the individuals because everyone learns differently and is motivated differently. You will no doubt have groups and similarities emerging so you then co-create solutions with those groups but be mindful of the individual voices. – This is now at the How of Hook’d method.

Remember to Listen, Listen, Listen – speak less – and act on what you hear.

  • Aggregate, prioritise and deliver through experiments

Aggregating the data you receive from the facilitated conversations will throw some emerging themes of what people want to learn, themes around how they want to learn and how best to support them through their learning.

Group them, run experiments through things like dojos for those that learn best in such format, communities, self-learners, classroom, and even those who like to just learn by doing – create the environment that caters for all. You’ll reap the benefits tenfold.

By this point, you are looking at the When (timebox) and the How (what outcomes are we looking for by the end of the timeboxes) on the Hook’d method.

  • At regular intervals, promote reflection and sharing

Leverage, promote, model the use of retrospectives as moments of learning and growth. Gather feedback on how things are going – act on the feedback. Celebrate what’s working well and adapt and improve what isn’t.

To finish off,

Meet our Hook’d™ Method!

Not an acronym. It’s a metaphor of how to facilitate a conversation to truly connect to the core of anything you are trying to unfold with an individual or team or organisation. This connects very deeply to why it’s important to be curious about the people all of these impacts and what they are curious about and what they want to discover through their own, personal learning experience.

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