The future of Learning – Are you part of the Learning Revolution?

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Alvin Toffler

In the future (see also here), I believe that our ability to learn and take advantage of varying environmental shifts and opportunities will define how successful we are and how successful our organisations become.

Johannes Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg

The concept of the Learning organisation has been discussed at length and indeed some companies have embraced it looking forward to how the marketspace would be endeavouring to equip themselves with the right tools and right skill-sets and attitudes that would enable them to remain relevant and succeed in the future.

Considering the Future, it is hard to predict what the art of Learning will look like. Technology, social media, interactive learning spaces and our thinking about education and learning is rapidly shifting e.g. embracing concepts like “multiple intelligences” (see here) slowly but surely will remove ourselves from the overly structured and dry learning spaces.

However, it will take years if not decades to fully understand how this shift in thinking will evolve and how it will affect us. To understand this better consider that:

“this is exactly what happened with the invention of the printing press. When Gutenburg first invented the printing press in the 15th century he did not have any idea of the transformative change this machine would bring to the entire humankind. A century later and after printing became a taken-for-granted part of life only then people realized the grandeur of such invention. This is probably what will happen with learning too”. educatorstechnology

As part of this discussion, I came across three resources that very eloquently discuss this issue and contribute to our thinking on how to make Learning more effective for our organisations and for ourselves.

Ken Robinson – his famous talk on the Learning Revolution on TED.com

Ken’s book the Element is also a great resource on the topic.

Sugata Mitra’s TED talk on his Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE) Project.

SOLE is a great paradigm of how technology can stimulate engagement and learning.

FInally, Knowledgeworks have taken a look into the future of education and learning put their thoughts in this great infographic.

The Future of Learning - knowledgeworks

The Future of Learning – knowledgeworks

Download the pdf version from here.

 

How do you promote learning and employee engagement within your team and your own organisation?

 

How can World Soccer and the art of Procurement be connected?

I love soccer and so, like every passionate soccer fan this much awaited month-long of world soccer excellence is a pleasure and a delight.

On the other hand, I am passionate about Procurement.

So, when this article from known procurement thought leader Ron Larimer got into my inbox I could not resist.

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 12.43.18 am

Ron used a soccer metaphor to highlight the practice of not taking risks, despite good statistical evidence, because of certain biases that govern human behaviour.

I have written before about how negotiations are effected by certain errors in reasoning (here) and I am currently working on an article on cognitive biases so, I thought this article was very timely and provided good food for thought on a number of levels.

Hope you find it useful as well as entertaining. You can find the link to the article below:

Ron Larimer on “The biggest lie Procurement has ever told itself”.

 

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Image courtesy of wikipedia

Conscious Communication – a paradigm for the 21st century!

“Communication is what the listener does!”

(Mark Horstman and Mike Auzenne paraphrasing Peter Drucker)

Effective communication has been an idiom of successful societies from times immemorial. However, throughout history the need to have this skill was limited to very few that had positions of importance on the echelons of society.

Globalisation and most importantly, technology, has made it imperative though that more and more people develop this skill in order to progress their careers and lives to what I have previously described as Endelexeia (here and here). Hence, today more than ever before, we need to focus on this essential skill and gain consciousness of the way we communicate with others.

Funnily enough, we are gaining consciousness of this skill anyway as technology is forcing us to. Let’s see how and why this is important.

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CONSCIOUS COMMUNICATION IN THE TIME OF THE MACHINE

Conscious communication can be defined as the intentional transfer of meaning with the purpose to influence others.

It has been a long and difficult process to adapt our communication style so others’ can understand and be influenced by the interaction. Conflict resolution techniques affirm that we need to consider how we communicate if we want to avoid conflict reappearing and stifle our efforts.

This is very important as the stakes are high, while we are going through a transition of eras especially in the Western world – transition from the industrial age to the “information” age. A transition that needs innovators, entrepreneurs, and intrapreneurs that are effective.

Living at the outset of an era that most surely will be influenced by Artificial Intelligence (AI), we see the trends of adaptive communication and conscious communication to grow faster than ever.

For example, five years ago we did not consider that it would be possible that we will train ourselves to learn specific phrases, so that Siri can understand us.

Noting the fast evolution of IBM’s Watson, evolution that allows “the machine” to begin to really understand fuzzy logic and ‘human speak’, I see that there will be a convergence between human and machine in the communication sphere. This has already started.

CONTINUOUS LEARNING AND COMMUNICATION

I have discussed before about the need to continuously learn as an essential skill for the 21st century (see here).

As the futurist Alvin Toffler highlighted:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Our ability to learn how to interact and communicate with the outside world will evolve as well. For instance, the simple tasks that allow us to go about our lives e.g. getting change at the counter, knowing how much the discount is when we are on a shopping spree or knowing how to send an email will shift to completely different levels e.g. how to program-customize our personal assistant robot most probably by talking to it so it can learn and adapt itself (as science fiction as this may seem we are not far from it – see here).

Entering this new era makes us more receptive to adapt our communication style and look at our communications from the second perspective in order to be effective, and achieve the required outcome e.g. Siri to finally get what you mean and give you an adequate, coherent response.

THE FUTURE

I believe that this great beginning of learning to interact and really communicate with AI systems provides a golden opportunity to also start considering the necessary and well overdue adjustment of our style relevant to human communications.

Doing so, will create a boost in our effectiveness and our ability to express ourselves and create meaningful relationships and finally succeed as societies overall e.g. increase further our standard of living – collectively.

HOW TO MAKE A START

Next time you are entering a discussion perform active listening, i.e.:

  1. Try and really understand your partner in conversation. Be conscious about listening and catch yourself when instead of trying to understand your partner you are just preparing the next thing to say.
  2. Ask inquiring questions
  3. Use visual cues – Smile and nod to the other person to show understanding and agreement when so,
  4. Try and understand the other persons communication style by laying attention to their expressions for instance:

A) Visual

They use phrases like : “read the instructions”, “show me”

B) Auditory

                    They use phrases like : “I hear you”, “listen to me”

C) Kinesthetic

                    They use phrases like : “let me try”, “I will show you”

then try to adjust to this style and see if your communication is more successful.

At the end of it all, remember that:

“It’s not what you know, it’s what you use that makes a difference”.

Zig Ziglar

 

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Image courtesy of Simon Abrams / www.flickr.com

What Aristotle and Plato have to say about Team Development? – Part 2

In the previous blog post I discussed how the Aristotelian/Platonic term Endelexeia can assist us conceptualize and develop our Teams. I also provided some tips on how we could go about achieving this. Let’s now have a look at the second significant term – Methexis.

Read on if you also want to find out more about this concept and also get some tips on how to go about to achieve this within your teams.

Aristotle

Methexis

Methexis is a term we find in both Aristotle and Plato with slightly different connotations. The term effectively means ‘working together’.

However, the interpretation of the term provides for a more esoteric meaning e.g.

“A good way to describe methexis is by considering the circular dance of primitive tribes we sometimes see on the History Channel. The dancers work on an individual plane acting the steps based on the rhythm but also on a collective as the group can also be considered as a separate entity”. – Bolt

Paraphrasing Bolt (found here), Methexis is a way of considering the intermingling of attitudes, expressions and movement and the way in which meaning is enmeshed with the materiality and temporality of processes and practices in which signification is embedded.

So, it becomes clear that “the primitive tribes’ ” dance is not in response to the world, but a means of encountering it, sensing it, and remaking it.

Extending this thought, Carter (found here) describes the indigenous belief in the practices of sand-dance-painting which, he believes, is producing ‘real effects both on the human and the divine plane’.

“In essence, acting within a group has the potentiality of producing real effects on the individual and supporting and guiding his or hers journey towards self-actualization”. -Carter

Thereafter, the key question is this:

‘How is it possible for one form or nature to be present in a plurality of things, and yet to remain one?’. Cornford

To understand this question better, we can think of it in the same sense as  modern physics asks the question for the nature of light:

How can light be considered a particle and a wave at the same time? (you can find a brief description here)

In response to Cornford’s question and for whoever has immersed in dance, the experiential facts provides the answer that:

Yes, we can be present in the plurality of dance and still remain “one”.

Moreover, it is meaningful to do so.

A good start to your team’s journey towards your achieving Methexis is summarized below:

  • Employ each team member wisely taking into account technical skills but also psychological attributes that compliment the team and the team’s mission.
  • Run collective meetings each week/month and promote open discussions about the team’s goals, key performance indicators, and future opportunities.
  • Run a SWOT team analysis every year.
  • Promote a “one in, all in” attitude for your team.
  • Promote and encourage the full understanding of how the team’s efforts affects the organizational success.
  • Create a sense of pride for the work done.
  • Perform a stakeholder bonding exercise e.g. a small interview between team members. The below is an excerpt questionnaire from Schuh et al’s, fabulous book The CPO, reportedly used at a team building exercise:
  • “Why am I at this company? What motivates me to be part if this organization?
  • What do I expect from my colleagues within procurement and/or in different countries and/or in other functions?
  • How do I contribute to this? What am I willing to give?
  • You would never have expected this about me:”

 

CONCLUSION

Thinking about effectiveness and how to build the organizations of tomorrow, it becomes clear that we should focus on removing the organizational barriers that created the silo mentality and thwarted communication, innovation and progress.

Plato and Aristotle when they argued about Endelexeia and Methexis did not have modern organizations in mind. Methexis was a term that was used in the Arts (Theatre) as a way to describe that the audience was fully immersed in the play and so, a measure that the play was successful.

However, both these terms can provide much food for thought in how we organize our teams today. This is because these terms assist us to conceptualize basic human needs i.e. the need to become and the need to connect.

The balance between the individual and the team is very important, i.e. the balance between the need to reach Endelexeia and to feel Methexis and so, making steps towards achieving both these states would ensure that organizations will have happy and engaged employees, well tuned and effective teams in their effort to be successful in this hyper-competitive market-space.

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Image courtesy of Nick Thompson / www.flickr.com