Leading Blog






07.18.08

Learning Is the Work

The Art of Influence
Master choreographer Twyla Tharpe has said that you practice while you perform. Or to put it another way, learning while you work. Professor Michael Fullan wrote in The Six Secrets of Change that “consistency and innovation must go together, and you can achieve them through organized learning in context.” It’s “the integration of the precision needed for consistent performance (using what we already know) with the new learning required for continuous improvement.”

This requires a thorough understanding is what you are doing and the critical tasks that make that happen. By first nailing down the “common practices that work so that you can get consistent results” you are “freeing up energy for working on innovative practices that get even greater results.”

He writes that at Toyota, where every manager is a teacher first, learning is the job. It is a culture where people learn from experience. Through performance we learn what works and what does not. “In Toyota’s culture, as in all cultures where learning is the work, the trainer is always responsible for the student’s success; if the student struggles, the trainer knows it is time to change the approach….Learning on the job is explicit, purposeful, and ubiquitous in these cultures.”

It is our job to create a learning culture where what we know is diligently and consistently applied, while we are diligently and consistently seeking at the same time, how to get better at what we do. As continuous learning is critical to leadership success, these concepts have applications in our personal lives as well. (This is the subject of Crucibles of Leadership, a great book by Robert Thomas.) Leading and learning are inextricably linked.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:39 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Learning



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