The primacy of learning

More and more I am taking the view that learning is the central thing about business.

What does this mean?

First, learning by itself is not that meaningful. It is learning combined with action. The simple dichotomy (between thinking and action) is really not so simple. For example, one of the best ways to learn is to take action and inspect the results.

If we stick with the simple dichotomy, we want faster cycles of thinking and action. Learn, act. Learn, act. (A slightly modified version of the Deming cycle.)

So, in business, my bias is that the key action is providing the best solution you can to the customer’s problem, and learning, in various ways, makes those actions better.

Their problems are changing with frequency so there is much to learn.

So, what do we learn?

  • The customer’s problem (means walking in their moccasins)
  • What they want as a solution
  • Who (the solution providers) are, and what are we capable of (now)
  • How a proposed solution fits into the context of the firm and of society (e.g., can we pay our shareholders a good return)
  • What technology should we implement and how to get the most out of it
  • How all the changes in people, business, technology and society are affecting this situation (both in micro and macro levels)
  • How to prioritize the things we need to learn

My premise is that if we consider learning primary; how do we organize people and work changes? I find, even though I have had this thought before (that learning is primary); it has not yet affected my work and my thinking nearly as much as it should.

The team that learns the fastest wins.

To me, this connects ideas about the Knowledge-Creating Company and the concept of Ba.

What do you think about all this? Is learning a key principle as you use Agile to produce solutions?


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