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effectiveness


Striking a chord


Why learning is as much about managing emotion and plugging away as anything else


Tim Gibson W


hen I’m trying to decide which book to read next, it usually boils down to choosing between three


types: something recent and/or popular; something light, entertaining or otherwise fun (and why not?); or something more nourishing, a timeless classic perhaps. How about you? I like to cycle round these three types to keep things different and fresh. But recently I’ve been reading and re-reading a number of classics one after the other, not fiction classics but learning classics, which must mean something’s up. Or two somethings, actually, one to do with work, one not.


Guitar lessons


Recent and not particularly successful attempts to support my 11 year old learning how to play the guitar have prompted me to try to re-learn the instrument myself after not having touched it since I was little more than his age. I’ve spent much of the intervening period learning stuff and, hopefully, helping other people learn stuff, so this time around I wanted the learning experience to be different and better. The first difference is that this time round I’m learning how to sight-read; still very early days yet but this is going OK and I feel that, for me, that’s a better way forward. The second difference is that I wanted to optimise the learning experience, whatever that means. A couple of months into it, I’ve learned that progress is as much about managing emotions as anything else. I’ve also learned that


Becoming a learning organisation is an emotional journey as much as anything else. In my experience even very seasoned managers often regard the challenge as some combination of scary, esoteric or not worth the bother.


the deliberate and careful piling up of different but complementary methods and resources definitely pays off. Cue an all-time learning classic: Honey and Mumford’s work on learning styles dating back to 1982. This has reminded me to explore approaches I wouldn’t normally consider, to reflect more (not a natural mode for such a fervent activist) and to keep thinking about how best to unblock barriers to progress. But don’t get me wrong, realistically I expect to remain pretty rubbish for quite some time yet. Julian Bream has nothing to worry about.


Performance improvement On the work front too I have been in heavy duty reflection mode, having just returned to the private sector after an extended spell in Government. I am really proud of the system and process improvements we were all able to make, and because we were providing an end to end service for the thick end of 100,000 customers, our focus was very much on cost per transaction, process optimisation, getting leaner and getting quicker. In all honesty we’ve made more progress in the efficiency


dimension than in the effectiveness one, which is not to say that we haven’t made strides in rebalancing the 70:20:10 and a lot of the digital by default work we’re doing is very exciting. But Government still has a way to go to get continuous performance improvement embedded, happening, and delivering measurable results in all the places it needs to. Same with pretty much every other business I guess.


Emotional journey


Government still has a way to go to get continuous performance improvement embedded, happening, and delivering measurable results in all the places it needs to. Same with pretty much every other business I guess.


e.learning age april 2015


Looking backwards and forwards has prompted more reading about effectiveness, learning organisations and trying to work out how these things predict “business actualisation”, which I’ve written about previously. Becoming a learning organisation is an emotional journey as much as anything else. In my experience even very seasoned managers often regard the challenge as some combination of scary, esoteric or not worth the bother. Once again, a re-read of Honey and Mumford’s “How to manage your learning environment: making learning a priority at work” has been reinvigorating and contains much practical advice and good sense. This particular publication is nearly 20 years old now but in many ways has never been bettered. There are probably all sorts of parallels one could draw about learning a musical instrument and building a learning organisation but one thing is absolutely certain: you have to keep plugging away at it.


Tim Gibson is a regular contributor to e.learning age


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