LEARN|July 21, 2020
By: D.C. Alves M.Ed., Chief Leadership Officer, ExuLAB
Take a moment and feel your own beautiful precious heart. The rhythmic beats, the strong energy, the feeling of pure love- both a spectacular mystery & miracle. It is part science and part wonder. It feels good to be centered there. It provides peace, hope, excitement, joy- and answers. It's the center of our humanity.
Imagine if you began to think of your learning ecosystem as the heart of your organization. What would you begin to see and do differently? What different decisions would you make? How differently would you see the learners in your care? What different technology would you leverage? How would you begin to design learning programs and products differently?
See, when you begin to see enterprise learning- and learning in general- as a sacred organ- things change.
The spirit of the learning function is a direct reflection of the beliefs of its learning leader. I encourage learning leaders and related stakeholders and sponsors to begin to look at the learning function as the heart and heartbeat of their organizations. In fact, did you notice that the word "organ" is actually in the word "organization"- the derivation is related. When you see learning as the heart- the central organ- you begin to see learning with new eyes that reveal that learning, too, is part science part wonder, it feels good to be centered there, it provides peace, hope, excitement, joy- and answers. It's the center of our humanity.
The learning function, when developed through this lens, can be the source of optimism, positivity and inspiration in your organization. It is the "go to" place to be safe, to learn, to grow, to develop, to create, to ponder, to generate amazing new ideas, to innovate, to wonder, to try, to strive and to prosper. Learning becomes the beacon of hope in the organization. The place where developing the true potential in each person is possible. It changes... culture.
Not everyone is cut out to be a leader, but everyone is cut out and deserves to learn. And we, as learning leaders, must have a belief that all our students can learn. They each are unique and learn in their own way- at their own speed- they fall, we help them- we coach, we guide. We speak to their strengths and help them develop their genius. We invite them to their own purpose. While they are with us, our learning ecosystem helps support them and encourages their individual contribution of effort and ideas to be incorporated into organizational prosperity. This is true belonging.
Learning is more than advancing up the ladder- it is the idea that each person has unique talents that can be developed and utilized for organizational and global good- and aligned to business objectives. You can have it all! And when they leave us, our legacy is carried forward because of the beautiful influence we have had in their growth. The learning evolves to make an even greater impact in the world- and we are forever a part of that- it is pretty amazing. The heartbeat of positive influence continues creating a ripple of positive influence.
The learning function is the life giving center of the organization. Even in the most truly compliance-based organizations, I have seen this vision become possible.
It is possible.
Here are 3 beginning strategies to help you build enterprise learning as the heart and heartbeat of your organization.
Purpose- create a purpose for your learning strategy beyond analytics. This "learning purpose" should beautifully complement your organizational purpose but have a unique focus towards learning- it should complement 100% but have its own life. What do you want to build for your organization and why? What do you want it to be and do for people and the organization as a whole? What do you want the driving force and impact to be? What do you want the legacy of a learning strategy that has profound good influence to be? What good do you want it to achieve? This purpose will be the spirit of your ecosystem that will be reflected in all of your learning products from in-person to AI. Caveat here though- in order for it to be successful, all of your learning decisions must tie back to your purpose- all of them.
Learner-centered- Always build for and through the mind, eyes, and heart of your learners. See how they would see, feel how they would feel, think how they would think- its human-centered design on steroids! What would you need to do to create learning experiences that would both challenge and delight-to make them want to keep coming back for more- even in the most compliance-based "mandatory" training. (P.S. semantics are everything-choose another word other than "mandatory"!) Speaking of semantics, what positive, encouraging communication will you use? What scaffolding would you need to build to help make learning transfer simplified and supported but highly effective? What meaningful experiences will you create? Think about the fact that learning difficulties do not just disappear once people leave school- they are still there and your professional learners still have them- consider this as you build your learning ecosystem as well. Do everything for your learner- you are in service to your learner. Your learner is at the center of everything you build and design. Design and build for your learner first, front and center.
Feeling- This one is probably the most important and the hardest to achieve. Remember how I said that the heart is part science and part wonder-as is your learning function. Here is where you need to abandon yourself to the wonder part.
How do you want your learners to feel in your ecosystem- happy, a sense of peace (wow did you ever think that your learning ecosystem could do that? It can!), excitement, a sense of exploration and discovery, a sense of challenge (in a positive way), a sense of team support, encouraged, a sense of gratitude, altruism, confident and empowered- in a good way... inspired? Every learning product or program-internally designed or outsourced, then must tie back to the feeling that you want your overall ecosystem to create. Why is the feeling so important? Because that is what will make or break the learning experience and the consequent performance you are trying to achieve. This is a reason why most learning programs fail to achieve their intended outcomes. Get this right, and they keep coming back for more...because they want to. They feel the heart that you put into the intentional and thoughtful design of the learning ecosystem- it feels good to be centered there.
It seems amazing to me---and revealing--- that the heart is the first organ to be created and developed within the human body as we are coming into being- to life- to existence- first even before the brain-hmm, something astounding to think about don't you agree...