Lean Learning

It first happened in 2010 and then everyday thereafter. Emerging from my Master’s Degree in Adult Learning & Global Change and leaning into social media, I couldn’t connect the dots between 40 pages of a training workbook and 140 characters on Twitter. What troubled me was that I couldn’t un-see it. I still can’t. What troubles me even more is that as workplaces and organizations, for the large part, leaders can’t see it to begin with.

If how we consume information is increasingly lean, why aren’t we Lean Learning?

We spend most of our lives talking about lean bodies and budgets. We’re obsessed with it. We Photoshop and save pennies for it. Yet when it comes to learning, we pack on the details and filler. And then we retweet, repost or simply repeat facts at dinner parties like “Goldfish have greater attention spans than we do today.” GOLDFISH. Think about it – but you won’t be able to for too long because. Yeah. So why are we still elevating excess information when simple is not just sufficient, it’s just right?

It’s Complicated

Exactly, it’s way too complicated. Anything complicated in the workplace is the silent killer of innovation, ideation, and productivity. Yet we celebrate unnecessary details. We applaud terms that exemplify complicated like “matrixed organizations”. Then we use them in job descriptions and hope we get talent that can disrupt the matrix with their novel ideas and velocity. Lean Learning is part of the entrepreneurial DNA. Complicated learning says you don’t want to evolve, that you’ll die fighting for the status quo. This may have been cool in the 80’s or 90’s, and although stonewashed denim, scrunchies and audacious prints are reemerging as fashion trends, complicated will never again be in style.

This is Your Moment

Lean Learning is here to stay. It’s about moments of truth, of thriving, of clarity. Moments that propel entire days of finding meaning at work, of creating value beyond the boundaries of our own imagination limited by company imposed models & frameworks. Today, in the social era of limited time and excess consumption, employees need bite-sized pieces of social and digital knowledge that allow them to learn in a way that fits into their skinny calendar slots. This is how I define Lean Learning. It is being on the go and in the know and at its core are four key elements:


Learner as Hero – Save the day and increase self-efficacy on your own terms.

Micro Consumption – Learning that is lean and meaningful: short podcasts, 140 characters, 30-second videos, one-pagers, two-liners.

Social as Catalyst – Ideation through curation within and across social, mobile and collaboration technology.

Conscious Disruption – Showing up authentically, being fiercely curious, and raising the game by choice vs. prescriptive design.


Learning must be be lean and meaningful so that we can quickly consume, digest and apply it in real time, in real life to make a real impact on people as well as profit. In the world of work largely guided by an end goal of creating shareholder value, we often forget the need to create human value. Until robots run the world, this matters.

Stay Curious… 

 

Why Learning Should Be Open Source

If knowledge is not open source, we are running a dangerous experiment with the collective intellect of humanity.

 

At times the sound of the rain seemed to be louder than the crescendo of voices inside the coffee shop during the lunch rush; an enlightened irony of my conversation with a colleague about noise. Not the noise we hear with our ears, the one we encounter daily with our eyes and minds when we devour (or attempt to), massive loads of information. Words, ideas, images and infographics are pouring down upon us and we aren’t even protecting ourselves from ignorance with an umbrella of purpose.

 

 

Open-Source Learning

With social media and collaboration technology, ideas can now be analyzed, debated, deconstructed and reconstructed in ways entirely inconceivable in the prior era of elite-only learning. Social technology enables intellectual crowd-sourcing at its best. The validity of an idea in a single classroom is being tested in workplaces and communities in parts of the world where access to the Internet is the only source of formal education. Where disruption is the difference between surviving and thriving. Where being born in a slum means living in an ecosystem of micro-entrepreneurs. If it truly is about who you know, then it’s time to talk about how to get to know those people where they live, work and play. Open-source learning is the meeting of the collective mind.

 

Open-Source Ideas

What good is knowledge if it is only shared in the name of monetization? Are we that greedy to hoard possibilities to ourselves because we cannot in our own simple minds conceive of ways to create additional value? Unfortunately, yes. What’s frightening is that some of the most poorly designed content, curriculum, blog posts command top dollar. Sure, anyone can put pen to paper or connect their words to a keyboard. Writing is easy. Writing for influence is not. This requires you to facilitate expertise through social engagement rather than being the expert as author. The skilful content creator is expert as curator, engager and author. The master communicator is the invisible orchestrator of human engagement with knowledge. This is the single element that separates a ruckus from a symphony.

 

Noise Cancellation

Did you ever think that the spa days, mental health days, vacation in the mountains, digital detox/diets/sabbaticals could be avoided by simply choosing to produce and consume knowledge as it is meant to — in small bite-sized chunks with all the flavour minus the artificial fillers that are hazardous to our mind? I call this Lean Learning.