Today, business is inherently more complex than it has ever been.
Yves Morieux, senior partner at strategy consultancy Boston Consulting Group, has developed an index to show how business complexity has increased sixfold during the past 60 years alone. Organizational complexity — number of procedures, structures, processes, systems, vertical layers and decision approvals — increased by a factor of 35.
To learn fast, you must be interested in people and ideas, not just yourself. “Be savvy, flexible, learn from mistakes and collaborate with well-connected people,” wrote Shane Snow, the author of “Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.” Those who learn fast build diverse knowledge pools and tap into the wisdom of mentors to raise their game. They are fast learners for whom questioning, thinking and growing is the norm.
Here are five ways to learn more, faster.
- Leaders are readers. If you can learn to read, you can read to learn. What’s on your reading list? Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Richard Branson are all prolific readers. Reading builds cognitive skills, problem solving and even creativity — all of which are essential in a fast-changing world. It can also provide new insights and fresh perspectives that help fuel your talent’s growth. Try the getAbstract app. It provides five-page executive summaries of books and is a favored learning tool among senior learning executives.
- Never eat alone. When’s the last time you had lunch with someone and learned something new? To learn fast, you must build up networks of thinkers and doers who you can tap during your career. Networks give you access, insight and influence. Likewise, if you’re not connected to the right minds it’s much more difficult to learn. You become an outsider. The com community knows that learning occurs when humans connect and exchange ideas. It was founded on the belief that “your success requires the aid of others.” A host and nine others will meet for an informal dinner to mingle, discuss challenges, and share experiences. It already has a network of more than 3,500 members in 33 cities and is leading the way with a more intelligent approach to networking.
- Get a mentor to raise your game. Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from someone elses? Good mentors can raise your game, improve skills and open doors to fast-track your learning career. In simple terms, a mentor is like a critical friend with life experience. It’s a respected person who’s probably achieved a high level of professional success in their field and is a role model who will guide you on your career journey. We all need a gentle push sometimes to try harder and think bigger. It’s all too easy to end up listening to the little man, that voice in your head that says, I’m not good enough, I can’t do it and it won’t work. The fancy term for this state of mind is “self-imposter syndrome,” and it can derail your career prospects faster than the blink of an eye.
- Fail fast. Learning by doing is probably the most powerful way to grow. You are bound to fail occasionally. In failure are life’s little secrets. For instance, you can’t learn to ride a bike by reading how to ride one. The inventor, James Dyson produced more than 5,000 failed prototypes before he invented his bestselling Dyson air vacuum. Embrace failure as your biggest teacher. It’s a vital part of the process of growing as a human being. A real failure is when you make a mistake and don’t fix it quickly and start over. The formula for success isn’t a mystery. It’s a conscious choice to learn from failure. Each wrong choice builds character and strengthens your mindset for the next challenge.
- Make your own luck. Luck is a skill that can be developed. It’s about a flexibility of mind and a willingness to listen to your heart and trust your gut. Take advantage of chance occurrences, break the weekly routine, and once in a while have the courage to let go. The world is full of opportunity if you’re prepared to embrace it. Tina Seelig, executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures program and author of “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20,” writes: “Lucky people don’t just pay attention to the world around them and meet interesting individuals — they also find unusual ways to use and recombine their knowledge and experiences. Most people have remarkable resources at their fingertips, but never figure out how to leverage them. However, lucky people appreciate the value of their knowledge and their network, and tap into their goldmines as needed.”
To thrive in the age of disruption, adopt a beginner’s mindset, and never stop learning.
Terence Mauri is the author of “The Leader’s Mindset: How To Win In The Age of Disruption.” To comment, email editor@CLOmedia.com.