The Future of Learning is about Creativity
The days of ‘spoon-feeding’ learning are numbered, and the future of learning will be very different.
If I share knowledge and proven ideas with you, however engaging, it does not necessarily mean you will understand it, and it definitely does not guarantee that you will apply this as a practical skill, or behavior back in the workplace. This is because words don’t teach, our experience is the master of learning, and it is experiential activities which are the future of learning.
I hear, and I forget
I see, and I remember
I do, and I understand.
—Ancient Chinese proverb
Whilst most people involved in learning know and agree with this ancient Chinese Proverb, over 90% of corporate training programs remain all about ‘information’ (telling), as opposed to ‘transformation’ (discovery and change).
Unless this ratio changes, companies are going to be left behind and even disappear as technologically fuelled disruption unfolds.
This is not scaremongering or being dramatic, it is proven that if we keep ’telling’ and ‘informing’ people what to think, believe and do (both through leadership and learning), we will keep on getting what we have always got.
Ironically, companies urgently need employees to be highly creative and engaged right now. Yet many leadership and learning practices continue to ‘spoon feed’ people.
Creativity requires that we primarily employ the faculty of imagination, not just the memory. When we spoon fed preconceived ‘right’ and ‘wrong ways,’ ‘good / bad‘ practices to people, we are forcing them to access the faculty of memory, not their imagination.
Neuroscience of Play
To be truly creative in workplaces requires that we create a culture of ‘play.’ It is imperative that the word ‘play’ stops being a dirty word in the workplace and instead becomes the foundation on which culture is built.
In play we explore, experience, discover and practice, which is exactly what is required to create and solve complex problems. Play is transformational, not informational, yet training mainly is designed to be ‘informational!’
Perhaps because of its childlike, non-serious nature, play has been a neglected by ‘serious’ scientists and leaders and has received very little funding and investment for scientific research. Given where we are in our technological evolution and the disruption we are experiencing, this is proving detrimental and is the key reason that social and workplace culture change is failing to change in line with technological advancement.
“The opposite to play is not work, its depression” Dr. Stuart Brown – play@work – TED – Dr. Stuart Brown
According to the brilliant scientist, Dr. Stuart Brown, co-author of “Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul,” our species has been produced to play throughout adulthood.
So why on Earth we think that workplace productivity equals being serious at work remains a mystery.
Sadly, not only are many workplaces serious, they are extremely stressful, which shuts down the brain’s ability to think creatively, collaborate, or for that matter be productive in any way. This is not a situation that can continue if companies are serious about being innovative players in their field.
In the past few weeks, I have carried out a number of demos with the Café Style methodology with various L&D and OD professionals. This really did highlight to me the extent of the challenge of getting companies to think differently, not only about their channels of learning, but the methods of how they now develop their people moving further into the disruptive age.
During these demos, a common question about the ‘activities’ is along the lines of “Why is there not a lot of ‘information’ being shared on each one subject?” And “How will the people learn enough about the subject without plenty of information and knowledge being shared?”
For me this is so profound, because there appears to be a common belief is that more ‘information’ and the ‘quality’ of that ‘information,’ or giving people the answer equates to great training and learning outcomes, that in turn would translate into behavior change and business improvement. Yet, this could not be further from the truth, especially when the outcome required by the organization is to develop a culture of creative thinking, collaboration, and ownership.
It seems that we have all been so indoctrinated by the command and ‘control’ educational and workplace systems that were developed in the Industrial Revolution. It appears to be proving so difficult for many leaders and learning professionals to release control and trust that individuals and groups can discover and create for themselves.
In summary, it does seem that whilst we desperately want our employees to think creatively and take ownership, we still want to tell them what to do and how to think.
It is imperative that we understand that there simply is not a choice here, there is no half–way measures. In order to evoke creative thinking and ownership, as leaders and learning professionals we must let go of ‘controlling’ and ‘prescriptive’ interventions and be willing to be the ‘facilitators’ that allow people to think, discover and create for themselves.
Let’s not forget that there is no shortage of information and knowledge that can be accessed at the click of a button 24/7 from the University of Planet Earth – The Internet.
‘Our people don’t need more information, what they need is transformation!’