Welcome to our week of Reinvention for Business—Day 4! The Ho‘ohana Online Community has graciously agreed to some hale-sitting in Talking Story this week for me, and they are sharing their thoughts with you on our March Ho‘ohana, a challenge for us all to reinvent ourselves in business.
Our Guest Author today is Christopher Bailey. You can visit Chris at his own blog, the very insightful Alchemy of Soulful Work. Visits to Alchemy are a daily habit for me: sometimes I just can’t wait for those RSS updates in my feedreader! A fun thing Chris posted recently was Who Knew Dr. Evil was my Boss? and I’ve loved watching his success at skillfully inviting lurkers out of the shadows: An Open Invitation to De-Lurk. There’s more! Chris has been working on his own reinvention with a new blog for us: Menagerie of Frivolous Fascinations.
Chris always writes with engaging enthusiasm and optimism, and so I was thrilled that he added his reinvention thoughts to our forum this week. Look at his posts above again: the man has a way with words. With his article, Chris has added a new term to my vocabulary: can you pick it out?
Rosa has selected a fantastic topic to get the creative juices flowing! A hot topic lately in the business magazines has been the importance of lifelong learning for professionals. The reasons are fairly obvious: learners are more open to new ideas, more adaptable to change, and frankly, way more interesting to be around. The great innovative organizations understand this and cultivate cultures that stimulate and reward learning. However, when I ask clients and other professionals about their organization’s attitudes toward and structures for professional development, they are woefully inadequate. Too often, professional development is treated like a job perk, rather than as a systemic part of the organization’s greater purpose of growing its business and its people.
What are some ideas for reinventing professional development in our organizations today?
1. First, let’s cease calling it professional development and call it livelihood learning. Learning encourages the idea that seeking new ideas and knowledge is a process that takes place everywhere in a person’s life. That book on Ferdinand Magellan or conversation with the person waiting in line at the supermarket might just yield two or three innovative ideas on how to improve your product’s marketing.
2. Stop making professional development the exclusive privilege of managers and executives. This policy only reinforces the idea that line staff have little impact on the bottom line when in fact, they may just have the greatest impact. Make livelihood learning an expectation for everyone in the organization.
3. While we’re talking about line staff, livelihood learning goes beyond job-based training. There’s a tendency to think that as long as line staff is properly trained to do the technical aspects of their job, that’s sufficient. Yes, training is important but it is only one part of the plan. Growing people is more than ensuring they are properly skilled, it means helping them further develop their natural strengths.
4. Related to #1, not all professional development has to take place in a conference room. I recently met an engaging and energetic consultant who works for a Richmond, VA based firm called Play. They offer each of their employees the option to take what they call a "radical sabbatical." These are opportunities to climb mountains, explore unfamiliar terrain, learn to surf ”“ any experience that will inspire them creatively.
The "radical sabbatical" is only one innovative way to reinvent professional development in our organizations today. Livelihood learning is a very visible way to build a strong, healthy, and innovative organization that is ready to tackle whatever challenges that the future brings.
Mahalo nui Chris! Livelihood Learning; I love it!
Do you have questions for Chris? Would you like to add your voice to his? The comment lines are open, and ready for your thoughts.