Our world of constant change is demanding. It demands innovation, flexibility and constant adjustment to stay relevant, to grow, to meet our goals. Businesses strategise, engage in product innovation and process re-engineering as a matter of course to meet these demands.
The challenge in this ever-changing world is to create the kind of environment that encourages community and collaboration, that works towards change for the better. The trick, however, is to create a sense of community within your organisation before radical change comes along.
There can be little debate about the links between learning and change. Change by its very nature brings “new stuff” we have to deal with. New ideas, new technology, new laws, new customers, new products. That requires new skills, new understanding, new ways of achieving one’s goals, which in turn often results in new processes, new behaviours, new patterns and new habits.
Here is the rub though. New ideas, processes, laws and technology don’t change the world for the better. They are only the start. Truly, it’s not how you start – it is how you finish that counts. What changes the world for the better is what follows – new ways of thinking, new actions, new habits, new ways of working and of being.
I know of no better way to achieve this end goal than by creating learning communities within organisations. They are often called project teams but I wonder how different our change initiatives might be if we called them “innovation learning communities” designed to lead the change process. Learning communities are built on five basic pillars: curiosity, involvement, support, valuing diversity of thinking, enhanced skills and persistence.
If we really want our change initiatives to succeed I believe we need to excel at creating learning communities where everyone, and I mean everyone, can do their best work. Learning together. Going through the inevitable ups and downs of change, together. Failing and learning, together. Succeeding, together. That is what community is all about. And that is what makes change worthwhile.
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