Learning in context

Published on
July 20, 2015
Chris Taylor
"Ideas are only valuable when applied."
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I had an interesting conversation with a new client the other day. She was lamenting the fact that as much as she “knows that this type of learning (aka soft skill development) is important, her team is just operating too flat out to ‘take time out’ to focus on it.”

In other words, running the business was an all consuming task that didn’t leave room for “nice to haves”. There was a tradeoff decision at play — keep the team focused on being productive versus spending resources to improve their productivity skills. Keep them communicating with their clients versus brushing up on their communication skills. The act of leading versus developing leadership abilities. Doing versus improving.

There is, of course, the obvious argument that a little invested now compounds into significantly greater returns over time. Take 8% of this week “out” (half day workshop, or something of the like) to help your team become 2% more efficient, and the time is recouped within a month. There’s the issue of measurement, of course, but any good training program investment should be measured in some way. This argument follows the same logic as brushing your teeth to avoid root canals later, or the value of a pit crew in keeping a top tier race car in action for the full race. Yes, it takes time, but the rewards are (READ: should be) obvious.

But I’d like to suggest we strive for something even better. What if you could improve your communication skills while communicating with a client? What if improved efficiency was a real time activity that was done as a collective, during the normal course of a work day? What if we could eliminate the “time out” all together and keep the gains? (In other words, what if a pit crew could make the changes required without the car even having to slow down, let alone stop?)

That’s always been our goal with Actionable Workshops; to reduce the disruptive impact to “work as usual”, while providing growth and development opportunities for leader, team and individual alike. To merge the “doing” and “learning” into one enjoyable activity. If you haven’t checked out Workshops in a while, we’d love to have you come see what we’re up to. Your first “Actionable Workshop” experience is on us.

And regardless of whether Workshops makes sense for your team or not, my encouragement is to try, as best you can, to move beyond the mentality of trade offs and short term thinking. What’s the compounded effect of that event, training or experience, if you were to extrapolate it out over the next X number of weeks/months/years?

As the world speeds up, our focus as a society becomes more shallow; more temporary and more instant-gratification focused. But here’s the thing — you are here for the long term. So is your team. Your impact is great and getting greater. Nothing replaces the value of learning. Make it practical, make it actionable and make it fun. But keep learning. The world’s a better place when you’re inspired.