“. . .we can say that Muad’Dib learned rapidly because his first training was in how to learn. And the first lesson of all was the basic trust that he could learn. It is shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult.”
-Frank Herbert, Dune
This quote from the well-known science fiction novel Dune underlines the difficulty many people have in learning. Learning means change, examining what we are now doing, and being open to explore what we could do differently.
Very few of us have ever learned to learn and most of us live in fear of learning. This fear has roots in embarrassment, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, our society’s worship of “book” learning over experiential learning, the desire to be like everyone else, the need to be liked, and many other needs and fears.
Children have the wonderful gift of total trust that they can, through interaction with their environment, learn. They experiment, test, challenge, and in the process, learn. Their natural curiosity and excitement over piecing together the world as they discover it is a wonderful thing to witness. Yet, somehow as we go through our formal schooling that innate belief in our own ability to learn, and most of our curiosity, is taken out of us.
Our organizations reflect this as well. Only a few are true learning organizations that invent the future and do so regularly. One that comes to mind is Apple. Perhaps fueled by Steve Jobs and his seeming less-ruthless focus on perfection, it remains youthful and exciting, even now that it is into middle age. It has programmed into itself the ability to take risks, be bold, and go where others are afraid to go.
Recruiting remains a transactional and traditional function for most of us. Not much learning, and consequently change, has taken place despite huge changes in how organizations design, manufacture, and sell their products and services.
Talent remains local. Competencies reflect yesterday’s needs. Sourcing is still a reactive process based on templates designed in the past. And hiring happens the same way it did 50 years ago.
If you want to be a mover and shaker in this profession, you have to learn to learn. You have to take some chances and do things differently.