One of the great challenges for organisations as we march towards the uncertainty of the next decade is how we encourage productive and sustainable change.
I was recently talking to a friend about the confusion and apathy which often surrounds terms like 'innovation' and 'creativity'. For years I have thought that if we substituted these terms for just one, it might just help settle the confusion and give us a clearer understanding of the challenge we are facing and how to tackle it.
What if change, innovation and creativity were just referencing the ability to learn? Since the early 90's, when I began my career as an educator, I have marvelled at the ability young children have to adapt and change their levels of creativity, curiosity and their ability to absorb uncertainty. I believe this is where the secret lies.
We need to understand how we can develop cultures in our companies and organisations where learning is presumed, promoted and developed as a core philosophy.
This also means we need to redefine what success and failure looks like. One of the things I learnt in the early days of my career was that we learn nothing by getting things right, we only ever learn from making mistakes and realising we can't or don't know how to do something. If we can recognise and accept that, then it becomes clear that focusing predominantly on productivity and fixed outcomes prevents us developing cultures of change.
To initiate this we need to start by asking some difficult and uncomfortable questions about how we manage and lead. We need to find ways to promote curiosity; a culture where, as Nobel Prize winning physicist Barry Barish explained to me, people have the courage to ask “stupid questions” without fear.
We need to explore how we can evolve into organisations where HR is about much more than compliance, where management is proactive instead of reactive and where questions and ideas from any member of staff is listened to and taken seriously. We need to create organisations where we encourage learnatics to thrive.