Training Industry Magazine - Summer 2014 - (Page 15)
TOOLS IN LEARNING
LE AR NI N G
TO L I V E t h e
The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard
lived long before change management and
leadership development were invented. Yet,
somehow he discovered the Achilles heal of
both. "Life can only be understood backward,"
he observed, "but must be lived forward."
Like the rest of us, change agents and
enterprise leaders are physically "present in
the moment." And though mystics promote a
state of mindfulness that is also keyed to the
present, innovators and leaders rarely buy into
that. Instead, they scrutinize the past in order
to predict what will happen in the future.
On the basis of such "backward"
understanding, they build models of
the future that differ from what already
exists. These models in turn generate
idealistic strategies and investments that
may be operationalized in the real world.
Operationalizing is what Kierkegaard called
living forward. Business planners call it
Statistically, and despite the heavy lifting of
Big Data, such bets are often bad. That's a
consequence of being stuck in the present,
and having a view of the future that's warped
by an incomplete understanding of the past.
Absent a crystal ball, business planners are
reduced to playing games of chance, rather
than skill. Technologies like game theory and
regression analysis may tame some of the
risks, but not eliminate them.
The technologies of systems thinking and
dynamic modeling are another hedge against
uncertainty. Not a crystal ball, but a speedy
onramp to the future. Systems thinking
doesn't predict what will happen, nor does it
- ROBERT BECKER, PH.D.
operationalize a bold strategy. Its genius is to
make organizations "sense and relate" better
to constituents and surroundings. Wharton's
George Day believed the ability of any
company to sense and relate is a key driver
of its success. Systems thinking is a pragmatic
tool for getting the driver to work.
So, what does this have to do with education
and training? Well, everything.
To sense and relate is to take in everything
that can be known and that matters to a
company; to analyze and assimilate, and
use the resulting insights to grow the
enterprise. So, who performs the role of
sensing and relating? Is it the C-suite, the
marketing department and ad agency,
social networks, sales and customer service,
R&D or the back office?
The correct answer is, all of the above,
along with people who don't work for the
company, such as owners, government
regulators, vendors, customers, and
communities of interest. All are stakeholders
in a company's brand and together they
comprise a learning organization.
A learning organization facilitates the learning
of members in order to continuously transform
or change itself. Scientist Peter Senge calls
this the Fifth Discipline - a brand name of
systems thinking, of sensing and relating.
All business education and training culminates
in a master brand, since the brand is the
promise a company makes to constituents,
especially its customers. A brand is also the
commercialized value of trust that a company
T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MA GAZ INE - SUMMER201 4 I WWW.TRAININGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE
The brand promise is the reason why a
company exists. A company that faces an
uncertain future (most companies) has only
one reliable way to reduce risk when it lives
forward, and that is to increase trust in itself.
Trust ultimately depends on people, not
on things. Education and training are thus
levers of brand building, when they are used
to create knowledge, skills, styles, attitudes,
processes, and (crucially) the values that
enable people to live their brand, and keep
People cannot invent the brand of an
enterprise, but they can learn it. They can
be trained to express it in interactions or
"touchpoints" with colleagues and customers.
When doing so, they can epitomize their
company and become eligible for deeper,
stronger relationships, based on trust and
continuously enhanced by sensing, relating
By learning to live your brand, you bravely face
not only what you are now, but embrace what
you become as you continue to live forward.
Robert S. Becker, Ph.D., designs advanced
interactive learning for corporate and institutional
clients. He operates Becker Multimedia and
is an adjunct professor of serious games and
gamification at Elmhurst College. Email Robert.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - Summer 2014
From Where I Sit
Table of Contents
Guest Editor: Developing Emerging Talent Pipelines
The Inherent Inertia of Training
Stop Harping on Generational Differences
Learning to Live the Brand
Leading through a Merger and Acquisition
Organizational Change through Applied Learning
Influencing without Line Authority: A Key Skill for Virtual Project Managers
The Currency of Trust: The Difference between Flourishing and Floundering
Building Buy-in for Learning Investments
Sales Winners Sell Differently: How Selling Is and Isn't Changing
From Mind-Full to Mindful: The Intention/Instruction Intersection
The Implications of Organizational Forgetting
Casebook: ADP: Improving Sales Process Effectiveness
Sustaining Training's Impact
Managing at the Speed of Business
Becoming an Authentic Leader
Training Industry Magazine - Summer 2014