Developing Our Capabilities
By Philip Cohen MBA, PALC
The following article is meant to encourage the reader to reflect on the rapid change occurring in our world and open dialogue that will enable not only the individual, but their organization, through the use of “Action Learning” to develop a competitive advantage.
A few years back, I spent three days in each of Shanghai and Beijing doing sales training for a client with offices in both cities. At the end of each training session, I thanked the group for allowing me to help them become more competitive within their respective territory and against the local competition. In both cities, the response to this statement, was very loud and clear “NO SIR, we are not worried about competing locally or here in China. We are concerned about competing with companies from Europe and those from North America”.
With a billion minds unleashed in both China and India as well as the multitude of people in other developing countries who are determined to ‘do better’, we in Canada must never be complacent in our quest for learning. Change is occurring so rapidly all around us, that it is understood, if we as individuals and within our organizations do not learn at a rate equal to or greater than the rate of change, we will fall behind.
So, how do we build our individual competencies and leadership capabilities?
There are a multitude of leadership development programs, with merit, available in the marketplace. The question is, to what degree does the learning become ingrained to the extent that the individual, the team, and the organization simultaneously benefit to create ‘competitive advantage’? Which process, at its core, can assure incremental and continuous learning upon implementation? Without increasing each person’s ongoing capabilities, a program’s benefits will be short term; and thus require continuous training upgrades as well as additional dollars allocated to the training budget.
To achieve all of the aforesaid outputs, one such methodology is Action Learning (AL). An AL group, as its main goal, is often formed to help solve a difficult or complex organizational problem. The group (6-8 persons) is purposely constructed to represent diverse thinking and strengths both from within and often outside the affected department. The certified AL Coach prepares the team to follow the powerful WIAL methodology of asking great questions. This enables the group to come to an understanding of the real problem at hand and ultimately resolve the issue and develop means of implementation of the solution. However, just as important, the Coach has each team member select a competency that they work on individually during the AL set. Adequate time is allowed towards the end of the session to discuss each person’s application of the chosen competency and their degree of success in building of that trait. Discussion ensues between the individual and the group as to how each person did. Group cohesion builds exponentially as the group works on solving the problem and building the individual competencies. This cohesion and learning carries over between members once outside of the AL set; thus learning and growing capabilities continuously increase over time. Simply put, as the group comes together to solve additional problems, their individual and collective ability to solve problems that are more complex in shorter periods of time improves dramatically. Thus, the individual, the team and the organization benefit and competitive advantage is achieved.
To learn more and witness the ‘real power’ of Action Learning, join us at a public “Foundations Training” program. Information and scheduled dates are shown on our website, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an ‘in house’ demonstration.
Your comments and input on this topic are welcome. Please add your thoughts to this post.
Thank you and “Great Learning”