What is the Learning we managers will Curate?

When would it be learning as a value, and when would it be learning as a strategic initiative?
When might learning be systemic, and when might it be irrelevant?

That last question makes me gasp for air in posing it at all, it really does, but I am trying to be open-minded about this” I am trying to learn something by gathering all the humility I can, and dismissing any assumptions I should dismiss in being a better coach for managers as I aspire to be. I’m hoping to get your help with this, fervently believing as I do, that we learn best from other people.

When I introduced our current theme of learning curation on June 1st, one of the things I wrote was this:

We all know of the benefits to learning, and I don’t intend for this theme to be one where we repeat them and preach to the choir: Let’s actually get learning done in a much more satisfying and useful way: Let’s become LEARNING CURATORS.

Now I am wondering if I was wrong, and if we do need to talk about our what and why before going any further. Shall we get a bit more specific?

The backstory

Here’s how these questions came up. I listened to a podcast which featured Jason Fried, founder of 37signals, answering questions collected from readers of his company blog, Signal vs. Noise. He thoroughly surprised me with his answer to a reader who asked what his team does to learn. His response was,

“Um I don’t know what everyone does. Some people go to conferences, other people just pay attention and observe things. I think that’s the best way to learn, to just stay focused on your industry and see what everyone else is doing, and pay attention to the right news sources, and learn stuff that way and just try it out. That’s the best way to learn anything, just try it. Experiment with stuff.”

(Here is the link to the full podcast: The quote about is just after the 15-minute mark.)

Now 37signals is no small-time company (you can learn more about them here), and so his answer really floored me, so much so that one of the first questions to pop into my head was, “Whoa” am I some kind of learning snob?”

So many assumptions, and so few facts

Our theme of learning curation makes some notable assumptions, and I admit to the bias that they are more than assumptions; I think of them as givens fully aware that they stem from my personal value system. They include our Managing with Aloha beliefs that

  1. Learning is essential to any work culture for a vast array of reasons. Learning is a response to very healthy curiosities and fascinations, and it strengthens us as a method of coming up with answers or options.
  2. Paramount within those reasons that learning is essential, is the self-development of everyone within any work culture, for if people grow, the capacity and abilities of the business will grow with them, so that all goals and objectives can be better achieved.
  3. By “grow” we really mean continually improve within a constant striving for excellence. Innovation gives businesses an edge, for successful businesses cannot afford complacency or mediocrity.
  4. If managers are charged with fostering the self-development of their people (and to the MWA way of thinking, they are) they have a very basic responsibility (Kuleana) with promoting learning.
  5. Learning curation becomes a thoughtful strategy, aimed at optimal, well-timed selection from a myriad of possibilities. We choose as will best suit the individual learner, we choose as will best suit our team dynamic, and we choose as will best suit our organization’s mission and vision.

But again, I fully admit that these are my assumptions as the person who authored “Managing with Aloha” as an operational workplace system. So what do you think?

I’ll state the questions one more time. Our context: You are the Alaka‘i Manager accepting the MWA charge to curate best-possible learning for your team.

When would you curate learning as a value, and when would you curate learning as a strategic initiative?

When might learning be systemic, and when might it be irrelevant?

And perhaps a third question: Would you be inclined to leave it up to the individual, as Jason Fried does?

Read the story behind the book: Imagine having a Thought Kit
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