When was the last time you learned something new? Something significant?
What drove your learning in those instances — your inner urge? Or an external nudge? Or an inner urge arising out of an external nudge? If these questions have not crossed your mind, you are missing out. Simply put — learning is growing!
One of my first childhood learning episodes that comes to mind was making and flying kites. I was seven years old. I saw my older brother making kites and remember my longing to touch and fly the kites only to be driven away!
Determined to make my own kite and fly it, I remember picking up the leftover material, applying every rule that went into making a kite having watched my brother doing it several times, tying the knots to the sticks crossing each other at right angles, sticking the paper to the frame using the glue, tying the thread while keeping the rule of symmetry in mind, and completing making a kite. My first “product” successfully flew as I danced shamelessly as if no one was watching me.
I didn’t have a need to learn how to make a kite. No one pushed me into it. I learned it out of pure fascination with kites — a strong inner urge.
Another personal example of learning comes to mind in a totally different context. I was awful in sketching. I still am. In my drawing class, if I had to sketch something, I would have to label it and underline the title, or else it would be left to the interpretation and mood of the examiner to fathom. Could I afford to quit sketching? No; I had to pursue it to pass exams and to illustrate concepts during engineering courses. That is learning out of “nudge” … you don’t feel really inspired doing the activity, but you have to for survival.
And all learning is the result of an urge or a nudge.
Organizations that create effective nudges for learning, along with an environment for innovation, challenging work and a spirit of intrapreneurship, create the “urge” and a culture of continuous learning. And while the organization provides the context for learning, it is the responsibility of the individual learner to own their learning.
Creating Learning Nudges
There are many ways organizations can create the nudge for learning.
- Invest in a state-of-the-art digital learning platform. To be successful in Industry 4.0, organizations need to provide their learners with an integrated ecosystem that combines virtual, physical and experiential learning with high-quality content that is available anywhere, anyplace, anytime and on any device. Creating the optimum learning and learner experience will help engage and inspire learners, creating the “pull” factor for learning that engages a multi-generational workforce.
- Improve access to content. In the era of learning content “uberization,” organizations need to build a content ecosystem to address fast-changing learning needs of their employees. This can be relevant vendor-sourced content combined with internal expert contributions that keep the content engaging, fresh and relevant at any point.
- Offer mobile learning solutions. To cater to diverse learning styles and learning on the go and create the “pull” factor in learning, organizations need to invest in innovative mobile learning solutions to engage learners by providing learner-centric design in an intuitive, intrinsically motivating, immersive and frictionless learning environment.
Nurturing the “Urge” for Learning
LinkedIn Learning’s “2019 Workplace Learning Report” lists the following hard and soft skills most in demand for 2019. Learners need to invest time and effort to stay relevant in the constantly evolving job market.
- Cloud computing
- Artificial intelligence
- Analytical reasoning
- People management
- UX design
- Mobile application development
- Analytical reasoning
As professionals, we must display the hunger to grow so the organization will continue to invest in our growth. It may sound brutal, but it is true: No smart organization would invest in employees who are complacent.
Also, keep investing in your beta version. The moment we refer to the beta version of a type of software, our antenna goes up. We assume there will be bugs. We assume it is not ready for release. We assume there would be risk in using it. All this is true. It means that the potential of the product has not been exhausted yet. It is also true that there is a scope for continuous improvement through learning.
Personally and professionally, we are like that. We all have an alpha version that everyone can see and count on. That is our steady state. We are recognized and paid for it.
However, our life should be bigger than that alpha version of ourselves. Our life is a work in progress. When it comes to learning, there is no steady state. We are constantly learning new skills that need be tested. We have bugs that need to be fixed before we announce the new version of ourselves.
We are in a state of permanent beta. And that is not a bad thing at all. It is that feeling of permanent beta that keeps us hungry and eager to learn new things throughout life. So keep learning and keep growing.