3L’s of Self-Directed Learning: Insights from My TEDx Talk

QAspire - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 04:35

I started 2019 by delivering a TEDx talk at TEDxGCET in Vallabh Vidyanagar. This post covers a few key insights extracted from the talk. Video to be posted soon. 

Formal education is a launch pad that equips us with fundamentals. But we need wings to fly long and high in the direction of our dreams. Ability to learn in a self-initiated mode is one of the most critical skills to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

“In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” – Eric Hoffer

Real learning is an inside-out process. It starts from a deep internal desire to know something, do something and change something. That’s when you take charge of your own learning.

If I look at my own journey and connect the dots, I find three things that that forms my 3L framework for self-directed learning.

The first L is “Labor of Love”

My son is fascinated by drawing and he loves creating greeting cards. When he is immersed in the process of making the card, he completely loses the sense of time and place. Fully concentrated in creating the lines and coloring.

For him, it is not work but it is play. He does it NOT because someone is asking him to do it. He does it because HE finds pleasure in it.

That to me is labor of love. Playing where our passion is. The key questions to ask then are:

  • What is it that you would do even if no one paid you to do it or asked you to do it?
  • What are your intrinsic skills – things that come naturally to you?
  • What puts you in the flow state?
  • What change do you truly want to see around you?

From an early age, I wrote because I wanted to express myself. This need to express translated into other related mediums like blogging, speaking, leading teams, running organizations, writing books and creating sketch notes.

In each case, I started at a very basic level but when I continued doing it persistently, I eventually got better at it.

When we play at the intersection of passion and effort, we elevate our game and improvise without even noticing it.

The second L is for “Lifelong Learning”

Our school system trains us to be passive learners and we always rely on someone else for our learning.

The essence of self-directed learning is to keep the inner fire alive, have an open and curious mind, , creating new knowledge through action and experimentation, make new connections to your existing knowledge, improve upon your skills and collaborate with others. It is about exposing yourself to diverse experiences and disciplines to generate independent thought and recognize patterns.

My journey into social media and blogging taught me one of the most important things about self-driven learning:

We don’t learn anything in isolation and our best learning happens when we learn with others.

Internet has made it easier to find your heroes, watch them do the work and learn from their journeys. We need to invest in finding likeminded people to share our work with, draw inspiration from, learn and collaborate. 

Network and community is a great learning enabler.

One more element of lifelong learning is having a multidisciplinary approach to work. When you pursue different disciplines, you can easily use expertise from one domain into a totally different area.

Differentiation in career and innovation always happens where two disciplines intersect.

My sketchnote project is the intersection of my ideas from my blog and my drawing practice from 20 years ago when I was preparing for architecture entrance exam.

In his Stanford commencement speech, Steve Jobs said that when he was studying at Reed College, he got into learning calligraphy. And many years later, his understanding of calligraphy inspired beautiful typography in Apple products.

He nailed it when he said that dots eventually connect. Whatever we choose to do, it eventually connects.

Lifelong learning and multiple interests empower us to seize unique possibilities when faced with adversity.

Finally, the third L is “Leverage”

Leverage, in simplest terms means finding a way to make a positive impact for yourself and others through your learning. It is about putting your learning to good use. We don’t truly learn till we execute our learning to solve real world problems.

My leadership improved when I looked at my role as a way to serve those I was responsible for.

Real learning is in the act, in putting your learning to significant service of others. Your work becomes art when it changes the self and others for better.

Today, knowledge has become a commodity and everything you want to know is out there on internet. We have moved from an industrial world to knowledge world to a creative world now. In this world, what you know is not as important as what you do with it and how you apply your knowledge to solve real world problems.

We are living in the golden age of self-directed learning. Getting information, sharing your work and connecting with others is just a click away. We have a world of possibilities now open to us.

The problem is that we are used to navigate with the help of predefined maps. Self-Directed Learning is an exploration of what lies within us, what lies outside of us and finding that sweet intersection where the magic really happens.

That’s when you truly learn things that are unique to you. That’s when you can differentiate yourself.

That’s when you stand a chance to change the world within and outside for better.

Here is the visual summary of the talk in a #sketchnote form.

And, here is the picture of me delivering the talk

Categories: Blogs

How Retirement Changes Your Identity

Harvard business - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 14:09

Teresa Amabile, professor at Harvard Business School, is approaching her own retirement by researching how ending your work career affects your sense of self. She says important psychological shifts take place leading up to, and during, retirement. That holds especially true for workers who identify strongly with their job and organization. Amabile and her fellow researchers have identified two main processes that retirees go through: life restructuring and identity bridging.

Categories: Blogs

Why Most Performance Evaluations Are Biased, and How to Fix Them

Harvard business - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 09:00

Avoid open-ended questions.

Categories: Blogs

One Way To Turn an Unexpected Resignation into a PR Win...

Hr Capitalis - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 08:26
If there's one cool thing about my career, it's that I'm surrounded by masters. People doing great things. Leaders.. wait for it.. leading. Innovation everywhere. And when required, the best people I'm surrounded by aren't afraid to play a little... Kris Dunn
Categories: Blogs

How CSR Managers Can Inspire Other Leaders to Act on Sustainability

Harvard business - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 07:44

Based on interviews with 54 CSR managers in German multinationals.

Categories: Blogs

Managing When the Future Is Unclear

Harvard business - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 07:44

Periods of uncertainty don’t have to be paralyzing.

Categories: Blogs

The Strategy Puzzle of Subscription-Based Dating Sites

Harvard business - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 07:43

If they do their job too well, they might put themselves out of business.

Categories: Blogs

How Big Companies Should Scout New Technologies

Harvard business - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 07:42

Don’t leave it to the high priests of R&D.

Categories: Blogs

Are Your High Expectations Hurting Your Team?

Harvard business - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 06:05

It’s hard for people to stay motivated when nothing is ever good enough.

Categories: Blogs

6 Ways to Improve Your Business Acumen

Hr Bartender - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 02:57

One of the behavioral competencies in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) competency model is business acumen. This should come as no surprise to anyone. It’s important to know the business, be able to talk about it, and make decisions to help the business grow.

But honestly, it’s hard to develop business acumen. Oh sure, a lot of people throw business buzzwords around like “growth mindset” and “blue ocean strategy” but do they really know everything those terms mean? In today’s business world, new concepts are being developed all the time. It’s a challenge to stay on top, especially when your plate is already full of work. 

Personally, I find it helpful to take inventory of the things I’m doing to stay on top of business. I love lists that remind me to step back and just get focused. So, here’s a list of suggestions that can help build business acumen.

  1. Read (and listen to) the right stuff. I’ve discovered an electronic newsletter called “Morning Brew” that helps me stay on top of business news. Trust me, I hate junk emails as much as the next person, but this isn’t junk. This Monday-Friday enewsletter provides a stock market overview and some commentary about the business headlines of the day. What I really like is the casual, conversational tone. Business acumen doesn’t have to be boring or stuffy. 
  2. Develop a business book library. Laurie Ruettimann has put together an HR Book Club. You can also check it out on Facebook. To me, the success of a book club lies in the book selections. She’s doing a great job of curating book selections that stretch our minds from an HR and business perspective. The other thing I love about this book club is, if you don’t want to read the book selection, Laurie encourages you just to read something. So, if you’re ready to tackle that pile of books you have on top of your filing cabinet, this group is for you. 
  3. Learn how your organization makes and spends money. If you haven’t bought your controller a cup of coffee lately and asked about the profit and loss statement, now might be a good opportunity to do so. Years ago, I did just that during onboarding and it was one of the best hours I’ve ever spent on my career. The good thing is there’s no rule that you’re only allowed to do it once. Consider scheduling coffee time with your controller right before budget time too.
  4. Join your professional association. I’m not here to tell anyone which professional organization(s) to belong to.  Everyone needs to figure that out on their own. But I do believe it’s valuable to be a member of a professional organization. And let me add that I feel it’s important for individuals to get involved. Volunteer! Not only will you make friends, but you will learn from your colleagues. Part of developing business acumen includes developing a professional network. 
  5. Step out of your regular responsibilities. The next time the boss is looking for a volunteer, consider raising your hand. Getting involved in project teams can help you 1) learn new knowledge and skills 2) build new working relationships and 3) get noticed by the organization. I know your calendar is already full. These types of extra assignments might be worth it. Both from a learning perspective and your long-term career development. See if you can squeak out a little bit of time to make it happen. 
  6. Know your customer. When I talk about customer here, I’m not referring to employees. Do you know who the top ten customers are for your organization? Not just their names, but do you know what they do? Years ago, I had the chance to go on some customer calls with the sales team. Very valuable! If you’ve never done it, consider asking a sales manager if you can tag along. You’ll learn a few things and I’d say that the sales department will be happy you did. 

Over time, I’ve come to realize that business acumen isn’t something you learn once and you’re done. Business acumen is changing all the time. Yes, it’s true that terms like profit and EBDITA haven’t changed. We have new terms like blockchain, disruption, and vlogger. If you want to be a contributor, you have to know how to really talk business. 

The post 6 Ways to Improve Your Business Acumen appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Unlocking Creativity: Are These Creativity-Inhibiting Mindsets Holding You Back?

Leadershipnow - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 00:46

IN AN IBM global survey of CEOs, the overwhelming consensus was that more than rigor, management discipline, integrity or even vision, successfully navigating an increasing complex world will require creativity. In a world where we must adapt or die, we need creative solutions.

In struggling to generate a sufficient number of creative ideas, we typically blame the number of creative individuals in our organization or hierarchy and bureaucracy. But in Unlocking Creativity, Michael Roberto takes a different perspective. He believes that we are getting in our own way by the way we think, decide, and act with regard to the development of original ideas.

We find that while we talk about the need for creativity and innovation, employees don’t feel supported or inspired by their leaders and were not given the time or resources to develop new ideas. And there seems to be a stigma surrounding creative types. There often viewed as quirky, unfocused, strange, and nonconformist. As a result, they are viewed as having less leadership potential.

Isaac Asimov once said, “The world, in general, disapproves of creativity, and to be creative in public is particularly bad. Even to speculate in public is rather worrisome.”

The question is, do we have a people problem or do we have a situation problem? Roberto looks at six organizational mindsets or belief systems that stifle creativity.

The Linear Mindset

“Many organizations fail to understand and embrace the discontinuous nature of the creative process.” They expect disciplined execution—on time and under budget. But realistically, creativity is not like that. The creative problem-solving process involves a healthy dose of trial and error. We must learn by doing.
Many companies have failed to make the shift from the traditional planning mindset to a learning-by-doing approach. Strategy formulation and implementation remain largely disconnected from one another. Firms continue to engage in annual strategic-planning rituals, pretending that they can predict the future from the confirms of the corner office. Even worse, they have treated design thinking as just another linear process that they can deploy. Step two always follows step one. They march through the phases robotically, as if they have discovered a magic formula for innovation.
But the five stages of design thinking are not always sequential as Roberto explains. “Trying to turn any creative process—design thinking or otherwise—into a highly structured, linear system turns out to be a colossal mistake.”

The Benchmarking Mindset

“Firms study their competitors closely, but in so doing, they experience fixation. Consequently, they adopt copycat approaches rather than creating distinctive strategies.”
Firms should recognize that differentiation comes from becoming more lopsided rather than well rounded. You establish a distinctive competitive position by amplifying your strengths, rather than engaging in knee-jerk efforts to imitate your competition.
We often fixate on what we know. “We become attached to a specific mental set, a way of thinking about a problem based on solutions that have worked in the past. Mental sets can facilitate problem-solving at times, but becoming fixated on an inappropriate solution from past experience can inhibit creativity.”

One way to avoid this fixation is to learn from people outside of our industry. “Rather than simply benchmarking direct rivals, companies need to think broadly about the full range of substitutes against which they compete. American Airlines competes against Skype and WebEx, not just Delta and United.”

Avoiding this mindset takes courage. “When you chose not to imitate, you often make bold bets that may lead to failure.” And “In many instances, people do not recognize the merits of the distinctive, creative strategy at first.” It’s easy to just go back to what you know and are comfortable with.

The Prediction Mindset

“Managers have a desperate desire to see what’s next and they exhibit overconfidence in the ability of experts to forecast the future. The insatiable need to predict just how big ideas will become actually impedes creativity.”

We crave certainty. When it comes to forecasting “How people think matters more than what they already know.” The best forecasters are intellectually curious gathering information from a wide variety of sources and updating their conclusions as the facts change.

The prediction mindset impedes creativity because of the way new ideas are treating in most organizations. We support and fund ideas that we think are going to be the next big thing—move the needle. The problem is we don’t really know. And some great ideas need time to ripen and be modified as they are tested in the marketplace. Focus not on the short-term return but on delighting customers.

The Structural Mindset

“Managers often resort to changes in organizational structure as a means of stimulating creativity and improving performance.”

Here’s the bottom line we can learn from example after example: “Leaders will not find an optimal structure that unleashes creativity. No such perfect solution exists. You cannot find a simple causal path that connects structure to performance.” Instead, “the best leaders pay close attention to team climate (psychological safety), behavioral norms and ground rules (rules of engagement), and the design of the work itself (personal responsibility).” These elements allow creativity to flourish.

The Focus Mindset

“Organizations believe that teams will excel at creative work if they focus intensively, perhaps even secluded from their colleagues. They fail to recognize that the best creative thinkers oscillate between states of focus and unfocus.” Focus and distance.

Srini Pillay wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “The brain operates optimally when it toggles between focus and unfocus, allowing you to develop resilience, enhance creativity, and make better decisions too.” Creating that space can be done by simply walking at times, but with teams consider having team members role-play different roles than they currently occupy. Travel helps to spark creativity as does creating temporal distance.
Jeff Bezos and the people at Amazon use “time travel” frequently to stimulate innovative thinking about new products and services. Andy Jassy, Senior Vice President of Amazon Web Services, explains that developers in his organization do not begin writing software code for a new project until they have drafted a hypothetical release for their new product offering.

The Naysayer Mindset

“Managers encourage people to critique each other’s ideas early and often. Unfortunately, the failure to manage dissent and contrarian perspectives constructively causes many good ideas to wither on the vine.”

The Devil’s Advocate technique can be helpful but with ground rules: the who, when, and how of devil’s advocacy. If the role is always played by one person, they begin to be ignored. So rotate the role. Because of the pressure to conform, Roberto recommends having two devil’s advocates. It must be constructive and respectful. As in with President John Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, he assigned Theodore Sorensen and Robert Kennedy to “relentlessly pursue every bone of contention in order to prevent errors arising from too superficial an analysis of the issues.” The idea is to provoke dialogue and debate.

Creating an environment that unlocks the creativity inherent in your organization is not easy nor can you expect immediate results. “Remember that the creative capabilities of people throughout your organization may have lain dormant for quite some time.” See the process through their eyes. It is the calling of leaders. “Enabling others to explore, experiment, learn, and create is your duty as a leader, and it’s potentially the most rewarding work you will ever do.”

Unlocking Creativity is well written and engaging as Roberto pulls lessons from numerous studies and a wide variety of people and organizations like Leonardo da Vinci, IDEO, U2, Google, the Beatles, Amazon, Israeli Intelligence, Zappos, Google, NASA, Pixar, Data General, Hollywood, Disney, Trader Joes, Reebok and Planet Fitness. Unlocking Creativity pulls together what we know about creativity and how that knowledge can be applied to our organizations and teams to foster innovation.

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Categories: Blogs

How to Be Creative on Demand

Harvard business - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 18:49

Strategies for coming up with good ideas when you need them.

Categories: Blogs

Make Sure Morale Doesn’t Suffer When a Favorite Team Member Leaves

Harvard business - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 14:19

Here’s how to do it.

Categories: Blogs

The Future of AI Will Be About Less Data, Not More

Harvard business - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 13:05

We need computers with some common sense.

Categories: Blogs

Data Was Supposed to Fix the U.S. Education System. Here’s Why It Hasn’t.

Harvard business - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 11:59

Better information doesn’t always lead to better teaching.

Categories: Blogs

Can Biometrics Predict a Viral Marketing Campaign?

Harvard business - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 11:48

Our bodies may sense what kind of content people will share.

Categories: Blogs

Why Open Secrets Exist in Organizations

Harvard business - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 09:00

And how managers can deal with them.

Categories: Blogs

The HR Capitalist Is Back In Business...

Hr Capitalis - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 08:17
I'm back. After taking 3 months off to finish a book that will be out in mid-2019 (The 9 Faces of HR), I'm returning to a normal schedule at the HR Capitalist. Some of you noticed I was gone. Some... Kris Dunn
Categories: Blogs

Research: When Being Close to Your Employees Backfires

Harvard business - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 07:00

People tend to respond less quickly to managers they’re friends with.

Categories: Blogs

Is Your Organization Humble

Hr Bartender - Sun, 01/13/2019 - 02:57

I want to tell you about an organization. Think of it as a case study. It’s a private company with over $1.4 billion in revenue and nearly 6,000 employees globally. Been in business since 1977 and is regularly recognized as a best place to work both in its industry and headquarters location. I think we would agree that this is a very successful company. And one of its core values is humility. 

Have you guessed what company I’m writing about? If you said Kronos, then you’re right.

I’ve had the privilege of working with Kronos for many years. First in my Corporate life as a customer of its products and now as a blogger and consultant. I’m honored to have interviewed members of the company’s senior management team on this blog. But I must say “It’s about time!” that finally, after all these years, Kronos CEO Aron Ain has put the secret to the humble company’s success down on paper. 

Kronos CEO Aron Ain

WorkInspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work” is the story of Kronos. How the company started and where the company is today. What I love about this book is what I love about Kronos – it really is a humble organization. In fact, Ain writes about humility being a company value.

I’m not going to give the book away – you definitely need to pick up a copy and read it for yourself. But I thought his comments about humility were particularly appropriate and create a takeaway for any organization.

Companies can change their culture. Ain talks about humility becoming a company value during a time when the organization was experiencing a lot of change. Personally, I think there are times when organizations forget that as the company is changing, leadership needs to make sure that the company culture and values align with the change.

Define what values mean. Kronos defined humility as “assuming positive intent”. It’s important when the organization establishes values that those values are clearly defined. Don’t make the assumption that every employee holds the same meanings for words. Give employees examples of behaviors that demonstrate a core company value.

Humble isn’t a wimpy word. Ain and the Kronos leadership team make sure that employees understand that humility and “bold” aren’t mutually exclusive terms. Organizational values need to be able to work in concert with each other especially in industries where innovation and speed drive profitability.

Always be positive. Even when things go wrong. Kronos uses humility as a way for employees to hold themselves and others accountable. Will stuff go wrong? Sure, but their expectation is that everyone will model positive behaviors which will benefit working relationships and the company. 

Now you might be saying to yourself, should we copy the Kronos culture? And the answer is no. But, if your organization is looking for some creative inspiration, what better place to get it than from another well-respected organization. Or get a confirmation that you’re doing the right things. 

For HR professionals who want some insight into how a CEO thinks, this is a book written by a CEO. There’s no shortage of business talk. But if you’ve ever spent 5 minutes with Aron Ain then you know he’s in the people business. And this book is a great example of how human resources has the role of business partner and what they’re able to do.

The post Is Your Organization Humble appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs


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