Individual Learning and Capability Building

The speed at which we gain experience & build capability is increasing dramatically due to use of digital technology and advanced connectivity.  The ability to learn and adapt in today’s fast moving environment is critical to our being able to thrive and survive.

I recall some of the advice in my early working life. We were expected to accept a functional role and stick with it, regardless of a desire to do something more interesting! The anticipation, from my parent’s point of view, was to have a ‘job’ and a long-term commitment to the employer. However, in today’s environment, the commitment to stay long-term in a single role is more likely to be an exception. The reason – work experiences are quickly gained and used to access the next level of interest or personal development.

It is now generally normal to provide a shorter-term commitment to employers and move as our interests and capabilities evolve.

As we get on in years, each of us may have already experienced many environments that we considered valuable for a short period. For myself, it seems that many of the normal behaviours of my younger self are no longer true, relevant or even recognizable as applied in today’s world.

Individuals can potentially remain fixed to a world as they experienced in their youth but l believe this severely limits the ability to function in society today. Our inability and unwillingness to let our world view evolve stops us from being highly productive and versatile individuals who contribute to an organisation and the society’s needs. These same individuals may also find themselves on the outside of social networks and community exchanges that can limit their self-fulfilment.

I often ask myself the following questions:

  • Is the context that I worked in a few years ago the same as the present context and what is it likely to be a few years from now?
  • How do I prepare myself to enhance my role’s contribution, which involves helping business team make more informed choices?

Hence, in my experience, constant effort made by individuals to learn and adapt will benefit in building of both general and specific knowledge, which is critical to keep pace at both work and play.

Organisation Learning and Capability Building

Within our organisation, we may like to optimistically believe that our own work environment is flexible and adaptable to the current business needs. Nevertheless, in my experience, organisational teams tend to resist change and much of the change that is forced on us is only accepted retrospectively as the alternative is removed.

Take an example of a large organisation that has resources and experience for building and communicating a better vision of changes required to lead in delivery of customer satisfaction and improved business results. However, this large organisation with a complex decentralised organisational structure experiences fragmented execution and is not always able to bring all employees along on the journey. Therefore, the capability to see a path forward is faltered by an inability to execute effectively.

In contrast, a smaller organisation exists in the same industry that has good employee engagement and subsequently executes quickly across the business. While the smaller organisation is advantaged in execution, it does not have the dedicated resource, depth of experience & in-built capabilities to create a vision of effective and relevant industry changes.  Consequently, the smaller organisation is reactionary to the market and their decision processes limited to keeping up, rather than leading in the industry.

In both examples, the small and large organisations need to recognise their limitations and enhance their capabilities by creating structured learning opportunities that help create a shared world view and a common purpose, combined with effective execution.

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