Cascading your Learning

A client that I was working with recently brought his senior team together and we did a number of exercises so that we could align the executive team .He devised 3 key operating principles that he introduced to the team and outlined as the main areas of focus for the next 12 months and we incorporated them into our workshop. One of the participants really liked this idea and therefore, when he went back to his office, he decided to do the same thing with his team. He brought in 40 of his team members from across the Asia Pacific region and did a conference for three days where he in fact had them discussing how the 3 key principles could be implemented more within their division of business.

I sent him some notes and some of the Power Point decks. I talked him through some of the exercises that could be done. As a result, he was able to pass the knowledge onto his senior leadership and his teams and they have executed. When we were debriefing the exercise, he told me that the exercise exceeded expectation. Bringing the team together increased their level of engagement. People were invested in what the division was doing. There was a great sense of enthusiasm. There was high energy, greater levels of collaboration, and he reported back that he was already seeing results. I mean a great success story, and I think well done to him. As I said to him, ‘Well done for taking this on.’ That is an example of cascading your learning.

Chris Argyris talks about ‘single loop learning’ where you’re learning things for yourself, ‘double loop learning’ where you’re learning things for yourself and then teach it to others in your team, as well as ‘triple loop learning’ where you’re learning for yourself, your team, and your organisation. As a leader, I think it’s really important for us to be constantly thinking about how do I in fact cascade my learning? In other words, you are never, ever learning purely for yourself. You’re learning to teach. I attend a lot of workshops and seminars. I listen to a lot of great speakers and teachers, and a key mindset I take whenever I attend any of these sessions is – how do I learn so that I can teach? It’s a question I always have at the forefront of my mind – how can I learn this concept and then how can I teach it? I’m constantly going in there with double, triple views of learning loops.

Here is my reflection point for you. How do you spread your learning? How do you cascade what you learn to your teams? How do you spread that out? If you’re not doing it enough, are there ways that you could do that more?

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