Most learning is social. In a brief conversation with Ulrike Reinhard at SCOPE|08: The Future of Learning, John Seely Brown, Chief of Confusion and advocate of productive inquiry, talks about learning on demand.
Be willing to be confused, to make mistakes, and to be intrinsically motivated to pick up new skills constantly. We live in an ever changing age, and we require continuous learning. But here's the thing, we do not learn so we can amass knowledge - we learn to do.
[John Seely Brown on the Future of Learning. 7:57"]
Learning inside the work scape, then becomes very powerful. So we need to transform the world in which we do things, in which we work, into a world where we also learn. Management is a question of how do you facilitate and inspire learning. The new managers will need to have the ability to know how to construct social spaces and encourage people to learn new things.
Community managers are facilitators. Thanks to new types of media and the digital infrastructure, we have the ability to be more connected on our own, outside the confines of a hierarchical organizations structure, than we ever had.
Seely Brown talks about Europe being ahead of the curve on open source learning. I can attest to that. The first time I experienced group study was in middle school - the equivalent of sixth, seventh and eighth grade in the US. Most of the research and presentation was done in teams with members divvying up roles and teams rotating. Most presentations were oral and kinesthetic, although we did have written reports, too.
The result for me has been horizontal and cross-referenced knowledge of the usable kind. A few years ago, I was thrilled to join the efforts of The Fox School of Business at Temple University for the International MBA Enterprise Management Consulting Practice as adviser. We need more programs of the doing kind to blend education and work.
If we apply this conversation to business, you can easily see how social media may offer the right kind of tools - applied internally and externally - for the organization to learn about itself and the creation of new services and products in the marketplace. This without the use of focus groups or labs. In fact, the whole conversation becomes a lab where learning is implemented in rapid cycles.
As Seely Brown says, your company's sustainability depends on your ability to develop a constantly evergreen set of capabilities before anybody else does. How do you accelerate your company's capability-building processes? Your talent development strategy? Is it possible to learn even faster?