I have asked this question to participants in many KM workshops: “Estimate what percent of your present total knowledge came from your formal schooling.”
The average of answers across many workshop groups is about 20%. Of course, older and more experienced participants give much smaller percentages.
What does this result mean?
We learn more from work and from life than from school! We spent so much money, many years, technology and much planning to get that 20%. Yet we got the 80% without planning, technology, money, etc. In fact, I will make a strong statement: “We got the 80% largely unconsciously.” We learn from work and from life all the time, but we do it without planning, haphazardly and without any system or technique.
Imagine how much more we can learn from work and from life if we did it consciously — with deliberate planning, system and technology! The system, science and technology of learning from work has a name: it is called “organizational learning.” The system, science and technology of learning from life has no name yet; in my non-government organization (CCLFI) we call it “conscious living.” That is why our organization is called Center for Conscious Living Foundation, Inc.
The first thing we need to do is to change our mindset. How?
I first ask corporate people how long is the on-the-job-training they provide to new recruits. I get answers from a few weeks to a few months. Then I make a strong statement: “We, all of us, are still undergoing on-the-job training!”
We must think or always remind ourselves that every day, hour or minute we are spending on our job, we are learning. It is time we discard the limiting assumption that we have stopped learning after our on-the-job training period. We are still learning! We are learning 24/7!
So, the first thing we need to do is to place ourselves in a continuous learning mode.
For example, after (or even during) any activity we must always step back, reflect and ask ourselves:
- What worked?
What did not work and why?
What new insights did you gain?
Did you change the way you see or think about something?
What external factors facilitated (or hindered) success?
How differently would you do it next time to achieve better performance?
You need to write your answers, or else you may forget what you learned. By the way, the answer to the question “what worked well” is an example of knowledge because — remember the definition of “knowledge” in KM — it will provide you or whoever will repeat the activity a capacity for doing it better.
Learning from work means being a more reflective, more watchful and more self-aware knowledge worker.
In the February 2007 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Bill George and his associates wrote about how to be an inspiring and empowering leader. They asked 75 members of the Advisory Council of the Stanford Graduate School of Business what is the most important capability that leaders must develop. Their answer was nearly unanimous: self-awareness.
A leader must have the Power of the Third Kind!
Tell us what you think.
Tags: conscious living, continuous learning mode, knowledge, knowledge management, learning, OJT, on the job training, organizational learning, power of the third kind, reflection, self-awareness, training, unconscious learning