Ever feel like you don’t have time to learn? I know I do – but then when I make 5-10 mins or occasionally even an hour or half-day to reflect on what’ve learned or to think about what I might be able to learn in the coming week I never regret the use of time. Planning, reflecting and applying learning is the ultimate time and energy saver in the long-term: a stitch in time really can save nine when it comes to applying what your organisation has learnt. In the third in this series of posts looking at enabling ongoing change in organisations I want to talk about how to ‘fit in’ learning.
When and how to learn
There are of course ‘organisational learning’ strategies and tools that involve the whole organization but I’m going to focus on a few smaller things we can all do at any time to improve learning:
Many of us spend lots of time in meetings. Two simple learning exercises I like at the end of meetings are:
- A ‘process review’ (in facilitators’ jargon) – simply put, how was that meeting for you and how could we improve it. A 5-10 min round-table of what could be improved for next time is always time well-spent.
- ‘Take aways’ – asking everyone one thing they are ‘taking away’ from a discussion, this could be an insight or piece or learning, or an action they intend to do. Being encouraged to think about what you’ve got from a meeting or discussion helps process and embed learning whereas hearing what others have got from the same discussion can be fascinating.
Spending a couple of hours at the end of every project to capture what you’ve learned and send round a quick summary to those involved. That might include having a quick chat with others who’ve been involved to gather their thoughts too.
It never hurts to remind your client or boss what went well either – even if there’s no formal requirement to produce a formal end of project report I often like to produce them.
This can be a bigger time commitment, but if you’re serious about learning from what you do and developing a culture of learning within the organisation then Action Learning can be a very useful tool.
What to learn
Ever feel like there’s just too much to keep up to date with or learn?
You can’t learn about everything all the time so a quick think about 2-3 things you hope to learn from any activity in advance means it’s more feasible to look for evidence on which to review learning.
When I’m working as a consultant I like to think about what I’ll try and learn on a project-by-project by project basis (and how interested I am in a project is often part of why I take it on in the first place). Employees often do this on an annual basis as part of performance review and objective setting (or could do).
So that’s a few of my favourite ways to encourage my own and others’ learning – what works for you? How, when and where to do fit in learning to your working week?
In the last in this series about learning in organisations I’m going to move onto talk about the importance of sharing learning with others.