If, indeed, learning is the new business imperative, what does that mean we need to learn? What are the skills that we want to have, or need to develop? I reckon they fall into two categories; those we do for our own learning, and those for learning with and through others.
When we learn on our own, we need to address what information we want coming in and how we process it. This falls under Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowlege Mastery of Seek – Sense – Share. To me there are two main components: what you actively seek, and what comes to you.
What you actively seek really is your searching abilities. Several things come into play. One is knowing where to look. When do you google, when do you do an internal search, when do you check out a book? And how to look is also a component. Do you know how to make a good search string? Do you know how to evaluate the quality of the responses you get? I see too often that people aren’t critical enough in looking at purveyed information.
Then, you also want to set up a stream of information that comes to you. Who to follow on social media? What streams of information? How do you find what sources others use? How do you track what’s happening in your areas of interest and responsibility without getting overwhelmed? This is personal information management, and it requires active management, as sources change. And there are different strategies for different media, as well.
Note that this crosses over into social, but people don’t necessarily know you’re following them. While there may be a notification, they don’t know how much attention you’re paying. I’ve talked about ‘stealth mentoring’, where you can follow someone’s tweets and blog posts, and they can serve as a mentor for you without even knowing it!
There’s some processing of that information, too. What do you do with it? How do you make sense of it? If you hear X over here, and Y over there, you should try to actively reconcile it (e.g. as I did here with collaboration and cooperation). Do you diagram, write, make a video, ?
Of course, if you do process it, do you share it? Now we’re crossing over into the social space more proactively. There’re good reasons to ‘show your work’; in terms of helping others understand where you’re at in your process and for them to offer help. And sharing your thinking can help others. Your thoughts, even interim, can help you and others sort out your thinking. There are some skills involved in figuring out how to systematically share, and of course some diligence and effort is required too, at least before it becomes a habit.
And, of course, there is explicitly asking for help. There are ways to ask for help that aren’t effective! Similarly, there are ways to offer help that won’t necessarily be taken up. So there are skills involved in communicating.
Similarly, collaboration shouldn’t be taken for granted. Do you know different ways to collaborate on documents, presentations, and spreadsheets? Hint: there are better ways than emailing around files! How do you manage a collaboration process so that it maximizes the outcome? For instance, there are nuances to brainstorming.
There are lots of skills involved, and not only should you develop your own, but you should consider the benefits to the organization to developing them systematically and systemically. So, what did I miss? Wondering if I should try to diagram this…