I’ve often wondered during my career why smart people – high IQ and “book smarts” – often fail in life or in the workplace. Part of their failure, I’ve come to understand, is because they don’t have learning agility, or the ability to learn from new experiences or even the openness to learning. In my recent research of 750 U.S. organizations, I found that companies that intentionally hire for and develop learning agile employees are 46% more likely to be leaders in their industry in terms of sales and growth and are 39% more likely to implement customer suggestions and requests.
The good news is that individuals can develop their own learning agility and companies can foster a culture of learning agility. Concrete ways to building individual learning agility are taking a class in a topic completely different from one’s usual area of interest; frequently working on large, complicated picture puzzles; reading passages from books or articles and then writing a summary of what was just read; or writing words or sentences using one’s opposite hand. All of these steps build the “muscle” in the area of the brain that controls learning agility.
If you’re a leader who wants to foster a learning agile workplace, you can:
– provide employees with new assignments often
– ask employees to bring you solutions, not just problems, by asking questions such as “Our customers would be happier if_____”
– be a role model for necessary changes required for your company to remain competitive
– promote good nutrition and exercise
With these consistent, steady changes, your organization can have an energized and successful workforce and your company can have a culture of learning agility.