Corporate culture is one of those topics that gets written and talked about a good bit and with good reason. Implementing and maintaining an Agile culture and an Agile learning ethos are both very challenging. This is the topic on The Guardian Podcast with Ryn Melberg this week. The Guardian Podcast is the only podcast on the Internet or anywhere that is devoted to Agile, Scrum, SAFe and issues that affect the modern knowledge worker. To hear the podcast go to iTunes, Sound Cloud, or www.rynmelberg.com
Inside a learning culture employees must be willing to keep up with what is new and how that newness impacts their performance and contribution to the bottom line. Similarly, companies need to make sure that they provide an atmosphere conducive to a faster pace of learning. At the same time, employers must do more than simply say they are committed to learning; they must see mistakes as learning opportunities and devote time to learning from them. “Using the Agile framework, employees must be allowed to take risks and learn,” Ryn told her listeners. “In Agile we value the learning that comes from mistakes and even outright failure. We tend to think our work has to be perfect with zero defects. I don’t think that is very realistic. Humans will never be perfect and perfection is never an option.”
No Creativity Without Mistakes
To stay competitive, companies need people to be creative and innovative. If mistakes cannot be tolerated then there is no incentive for learning, there is just the opposite. “If you wonder why a company or organization is not able to organically grow by inventing something new, it is a safe bet that mistakes and risks are not allowed,” Ryn said. “Edison discovered a lot of ways to not invent a lightbulb before he finally invented it. Could Edison succeed in most places today? Probably not. To benefit from innovation, companies have to be willing to tolerate mistakes.”
Learning Organization vs. Factory Laborer
A worker does not have to be working as an employee inside a factory or a farm to be managed like one. Those people are measured by piece work or the number of hours they spend on the job. Knowledge workers use their brains and need to reserve and preserve their mental capacity for the workplace. “More enlightened organizations will offer amenities like a concierge service, day care, and even car services to unburden their employees from these duties so their time and energy are used thinking up new products and not on commuting or running errands,” Ryn said.
Nurture The Genius
According to Ryn, the definition of genius is someone who uses both sides or hemispheres of their brain at the same time. To get to employees to perform at the genius level, activities that activate and use both sides of the brain hemisphere are in place.
“The mental and physical activities that combine thinking and physical activity are games like ping pong or Foosball, piano or karate lessons. This is not for the sake of entertainment or amusement. Business owners and leaders do this because those business leaders want to train their people to perform at a genius level and are willing to invest in those qualities.”