The American philosopher Eric Hoffer said “In times of change, learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
In short, it’s those who are primed to learn and ready to adapt that have the best chance at success.
Today, we call that ability to learn and grow quickly “learning agility,” and it’s a characteristic of some of the greatest minds of our generation. Proving that you can quickly adapt to new ideas separates the true visionaries from those that are simply content to exist in their current state; resting on their current knowledge and relying on old information to coast through their careers.
There’s an obvious delineation between agile learners and the complacent, but is learning agility a skill that can be taught within your organization? The surprising answer is yes. With the right environment and examples, entire organizations can be taught to become more agile and less married to their current ideas.
Conditioning Through a Learning Ecosystem
A learning ecosystem is different from your typical learning environment: It describes a professional climate where the rate of change is rapid and the idea of learning is adopted each and every day. By giving employees the tools for learning–super-accessible materials; chances to collaborate with coworkers; space to have their ideas heard–an entire workforce can be conditioned to learn quickly and adapt to new ideas at lightning speed, simply because the workplace ecosystem relies on innovation and flexibility.
Make books, videos, and tutorials readily available to employees, and encourage your colleagues to attend conferences or participate in extra training. This creates an ecosystem where learning becomes a priority for leadership development.
Another way to foster and teach learning agility within your organization is to reward those learners who embrace change and are constantly looking for new and improved ways of working. By welcoming new ideas and inviting employees to question the status quo, you give agile learners the ability to be heard. Agile learners are also primed to take on responsibilities and leadership, as they’ve proven that they can be creative, effective, and know how to take the initiative and make things better.
Learners can be rewarded via promotions, new responsibilities, leadership opportunities, or even just extra time to have their ideas heard can be enough to show the rest of your workforce that it pays to be an agile learner.
Foster Through eLearning
Competency can be built through elearning, to prime learners to question everything. As adult learners, we come into learning new things with all of our previous knowledge and experience, and learning adaptability commands that the learner essentially hits reset and starts from scratch. A microlearning series focused on training this ability in employees and leaders over the course of time is an effective way to begin building and honing this skill.
Leading by Example
Leaders and managers have a responsibility to show how agile learning can contribute to the success of an organization. It can be difficult to have an employee question a policy or come up with a better way to operate, but agile learners aren’t rooted in their ideology. Instead, they’re flexible and ready to adapt to new ideas and procedures. In fact, not only do they want to adapt, but they’re eager to share those ideas with others. As a leader, you’ll need to adopt the same mindset to help teach employees that efficiency and innovation trump historical policy.
Leave room for creative ideas and actively solicit opinions and ideas from your workforce. Allowing employees to see your adaptability can encourage the same reaction. While learning agility might not be top of mind when planning training strategy, it might be one of the soft skills that has the biggest impact on your organization.
Today’s corporate environment moves fast and organizations not willing to adapt will be left behind. Don’t get stuck training for a corporate environment that no longer exists. By actively training employees to be more adaptable and interested in learning, you ensure your organization is primed to take on a brave new world.