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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You can lead a horse to water...

I have been going around my business over the last few days talking about the impact that collaborative working in a knowledge economy will have. I have have tried to enthuse other people without simply being enthusiastic. And as a result I have been reflecting a lot on how to help people embrace change.

I think a lot of the reticence to explore new ways of working, communicating and collaborating stems from the age old problems of learning. That is our attitude to failure and the embarrassment that comes with it. "I can't learn a foreign language" or "I don't do technology" generally means, "I've had a bad experience trying to learn". Of course this is often masked by the standard excuses, "I don't have time", "How are we going to make money out of it?" etc.

And this in turn makes me think about how, as parents, we are bringing up and educating our children. Please notice that I am not amongst the group who think that this is the responsibility of teachers and schools.

I believe that to learn is to fail and vice versa. If you are not prepared to fail then you will learn little. And yet we have contributed, certainly in the UK and the USA, to the creation of a society that is predicated upon measurement, high stakes tests and school performance leagues rather than one in which people are taught to learn.

It is a long accepted business rule that staff will pay attention to the numbers that they know management are looking at. What if society's management is looking at the wrong numbers? When the rate of change of organisational skill catches up with us, we will have a generation of people who know longer know how to learn as all they have been taught is how to pass tests.

I suppose this brings me back to my central belief of parenthood. I cannot protect my child from pain nor should I. I can only convince her that I will be there to pick her up when she falls over. Such that when I am no longer there to pick her up and kiss it better she is not afraid to try and to learn herself for fear of failing.

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