The pace of technological innovation is unprecedented. At any moment, political, economic and environmental turmoil threaten to change the “rules of the game”. Consider the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis, energy crisis and the skyrocketing inflation. Also, the expectations of new generations of employees, customers and society at large also challenge companies to think and act beyond their financial balance sheet and quarterly figures. Because of these and other factors, one thing is certain: organizations must be able to adapt quickly and continuously.
Obtaining a bulk of data is a piece of cake these days. One press on the screen and a reservoir of data appears in front of you. However, the challenge lies in learning – based on that data – and then making the right decisions. To do this, organizations must develop a culture of “fast and effective learning”.
The power of the flywheel
Learning organizations harness the power of the “flywheel effect”: the shared knowledge, experience and creativity of their employees, customers, suppliers, partners and competitors. To maintain their competitive advantage or differentiate themselves from the other organizations, they leverage change on the world stage to their advantage or even initiate some of this change.
Organizing data-driven learning & improvement
To make learning & improvement an integral part of your way of working and thus the culture (learning-on-the-job), it is important for management to organize learning & improvement. By this we mean that employees are given time in which to work on learning and improving products, processes, organizations, collaborations, etc. Now, learning often takes place after the end of the working day in the free time of employees who voluntarily invest time in it. But in this way, learning remains something optional. Our advice is to structurally embed learning & improvement into your organization, making it an integral part of your business process.
What, if you didn’t?
“But taking time off to learn comes at the expense of doing the work.” This is a common reasoning of management when we talk about learning and improvement. Our question then invariably is, “What, if your people didn’t keep learning and improving continuously? Then their knowledge becomes outdated and they become less and less good at what they do. Then new, younger employees come and you first have to train them again to become as good as their predecessor. What do you think that costs?” “Well, if you look at it that way, structurally scheduling time for learning is not so crazy,” is the response we often hear.
Measuring what you put in and what comes out
Many managers rely on their experience and something they call “gut feeling” when interpreting data, but is this smart? Because to draw the right conclusions, you must first know exactly what to measure. But how do you tackle this? Demonstrating the value of continuous learning & improvement can only be done by relying on facts. After all, fact-based improvement leads to changes based on reality, rather than opinions and gut feelings. Real “Improvement Results” are measured objectively. By linking these areas of improvement to your business objective and then measuring the effect of the improvements, you demonstrate the value of data-driven learning & improvement. It’s as simple as that. But this only works if you capture the data that you obtained in a system, such as Targetprocess, that ensures you as an organization can continuously learn and improve in a data-driven way.