Graduation season is upon us, this is evident by my social media feeds flooding with pictures of recent graduates in their caps and gowns. These bright and smiling faces are proud of their accomplishments, as they should be. Graduation marks a milestone in their lives. Many are be excited to move on to the next chapter of their life. Some might believe their learning is over and rejoice thinking they will never have to read a book again. Little do they realize that their learning is just beginning because learning continuously is essential to success.
Principles are the basis for building a lasting culture and achieving enterprise excellence. As an organization Catalysis uses the Shingo Guiding Principles as a foundation for our culture. In addition, we have added a few of our own. Learning continuously and seeking knowledge is not one of the Shingo principles; however, Catalysis has adopted this as a principle within our organization.
Here are some reasons that learning continuously is an important principle to our organization and to me:
It is Necessary for Continuous Improvement
Learning and continuous improvement go hand in hand. Whether it is learning about the tools to help see waste or explore a problem, or learning more about the problem itself, improvement is not possible without continuous learning. In a continuous improvement culture learning is occurring all the time. When a problem arises, staff are asking questions to learn more about the root cause of the issue. The more they learn about the current situation, the better the countermeasure will be.
Learning enables us to broaden our minds, advance our understanding, and discover new things. Learning continuously is an enabling principle. Learning enables us as individuals to become better problem solvers. Some of the behaviors that Catalysis uses to define the principle learn continuously are: researching and preparing for improvement work, studying processes, and participating in team huddles.
It Demonstrates Humility
A leader who demonstrates their willingness to learn continuously shows humility in their actions. When a leader is open to learning that shows others that they recognize that they do not have all the answers, which is an important component of humility. At Catalysis the behaviors that we use to describe the principle learn continuously overlap with some of the behaviors attributed to the principle lead with humility. These behaviors include: listening more than speaking and asking humble inquiry questions.
It Enables Personal and Organizational Growth
Without continuously learning, we get stuck. How do we keep moving forward? We keep learning. Our growth and development professionally and personally often depend on our willingness to learn continuously. One behavior that aligns with this principle and personal growth is taking time to reflect.
Organizational growth also requires learning continuously. The organization must be willing to learn from successes and failures. They must adjust course based on feedback from the customer and rapid experimentation.
I hope that all of you are learning continuously and encouraging those around you to do the same. Here are some things to consider when assessing how well you are living up to this principle: As a leader, how do you enable your people to foster learning continuously within your organization, department or area? As an individual, how do you learn continuously?
And finally, in this season of learning milestones, congratulations for all the new graduates and their parents! The world awaits and so does your learning.
Theresa Moore, Senior Manager – Delivery
Book: Management on the Mend, by John Toussaint