After watching the smash-hit documentary Super Size Me, did you vow to give up McDonald’s only to return to the home of the Big Mac a couple of weeks later? After viewing An Inconvenient Truth, did you promise to be more environmentally friendly only to use plastic straws, drive a gas guzzler and eat meat once the film left your mind?
How often have you tried to change? We all try to adjust our lifestyles – professionally or personally – in some capacity. Every day, we attempt to be smarter, slimmer, faster, nicer or a better companion in the hopes of attaining success, such as a promotion at work, finding love, being healthier and, most important of all, become a happier individual. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not; we eventually return to our old behaviours.
It might perhaps be time to embrace agile learning. This is quickly becoming one of the biggest fads in professional development and corporate management. Unlike fads, however, agile learning could be here to stay. For the sake of your own success, whether you are an entrepreneur or a professional with training in marketing or accounting, you better hope it will have a permanent presence.
What Is Agile Learning?
Agile learning is the eagerness and ability to study your past experiences and then utilise this new education to develop tactics to succeed in new conditions. There is no one-size-fits-all methodology, but there are many measures you can employ to develop a successful strategy of ensuring you are always learning from yesterday.
Here are just some of the ways you can incorporate learning agility into your daily living:
- Display self-awareness by routinely seeking feedback, listening to both sound and unsound advice, and implement a behaviour that seems right.
- Reflect on what occurred last week, last month or last year.
- Be open to new things – culture, advice, people or work – and challenge the status quo.
- Experiment with creative solutions to everyday problems.
- Welcome change if it makes sense; do not be afraid of taking risks.
- Work with others and find common ground to tackle the problems of yesterday.
These are only just some of the recommendations to apply agile learning into your life.
Why Is Agile Learning Important?
You might be asking by now: why is this even important? If you have gotten to this point in life by doing things your way, then why bother change? Isn’t it superfluous to alter your trajectory at 40, 50 or 60? Or if you want to institute agile learning into the company’s business model, you may wonder if it is worth it, considering that your firm is 7 years old and earns a profit margin of 3.2%.
These are good questions to ask, but here is the thing: there is always room for improvement. Think of it this way: you are thin, despite eating unhealthy foods and maintaining unhealthy habits. Don’t you want to get in shape, boost your health and be happier?
That is sort of how this concept works, but for things like entrepreneurship, project management and career development. So, let’s examine why agile learning is important:
1. It Boosts the Quality of Your Work
Agile learning promotes the idea that you can always do better by learning from your mistakes. It also emphasises the point of continuous development, which is imperative when a crucial aim to enhance the quality of your work, product or service. To ensure quality is being improved upon, agility will push you into adopting automated testing tools, performing team retrospectives or eloquently explaining defects, features or relevance of projects.
2. You Adapt to New Technologies
Let’s face it: the old way of executing plans, developing products and delivering services is done. It is finished. Why? Technology. If you have failed to install any new technology – hardware or software – in the last five years, then you are obviously resistant to change. Since agile development is all about change, you can finally embrace these digital tools to help you take your company or team to the next level by being far more efficient than you have been before.
3. It Enables Collaborative Learning in the Office
If your goal of agile learning is more for the office than yourself, then you can take comfort in the fact that it will help you develop a collaborative learning environment. No longer should your workplace depend on tribal knowledge, out-of-date ideas or unreliable learning materials. Instead, your business can rely on better communication of crowdsourced ideas in the form of brainstorming, discussions, development and cooperation between all parties – management, subordinates, interns, and anyone else with a vested interest in the success of an endeavour.
4. It Aligns Personal Goals with Corporate Objectives
Has your organisation adopted a culture of agile learning? If so, then you can do something that many have only paid lip service to, and that is coalescing personal goals with corporate objectives. This might seem impossible, but it really is not when you are following agile principles that keep pace with your office operations.
For example, if John Smith is interested in learning data analytics, and your business has recently taken advantage of data science, then you can merge the two things. So, John Smith can begin familiarising himself with analysing data, and your business can allow John to use your resources. Essentially, you are killing two birds with one stone.
5. It Improves Your Human Capital
Human capital is the skills, knowledge, education and experience you possess. And your human capital continues widening every day, as long as you are consistently going out of your way to becoming acquainted with something new. Also, this ties into the previous point: your company can develop and expand your employees’ human capital by offering tools to help encourage them improve their own skills. If they are good at their job, then that benefits you in the long run.
Everything from interactive content to social media development to webinars; there are many options available to merge work productivity, training and professional advancement. What makes this even more attractive is that you will ensure that employees are happy, either as former staff members or veterans who have stayed the course.
How Can You Start Being an Agile Learner?
So, now that you have the basic information behind agile learning, you need to take action. But how? That is the $64,000 question. Everyone has their own style, and some things will work for some and be a total disaster for others. What can you do to start being an agile learner?
Here are some tips:
- Know what learning options are in front of you to become a better project manager or data scientist (formats, costs, time requirements, location and other factors).
- Figure out how to educate yourself on agile learning; are you better in a classroom setting or do you want real-world experience?
- Determine what new skills and knowledge will soon be required. Put simply, anticipate what the future brings by reading and researching and paying attention to what the experts are saying.
- Use gamification, like point scoring, in your agile learning journey.
These are elementary suggestions. The longer you do it, the longer the list of ways to learn agility.
It is time to start kicking your career or your business into high gear. You need to ditch the stagnancy and stop standing in the same spot. The world is changing, the marketplace is evolving, and the makeup of the labour market is only becoming more competitive and more advanced.
You cannot survive on what worked yesterday, but rather on what you think will happen tomorrow in any business cycle. And the only way to anticipate tomorrow is to learn from the past and present.
Are you prepared for what it takes to embrace change and thrive under this new system? For career sustenance, you need to.
What are your thoughts about agile learning? Join the conversation below and let us know.