I build on some thoughts of Anna Carlson regarding hierarchical versus networked learning in business, and how fear can affect organizational learning:
I maintain that fear is perhaps the biggest barrier to innovation, creativity, and resilience in organizations, so the first point to draw from Carlson’s piece that work to reduce the culture of fear that exists in so many organizations.
Anna goes on:
Societally and in the media we celebrate the beauty of youth, we see this as being fresh, open, malleable, exciting and open to opportunity. Whereas old age is seen as stale, stuck in our ways. What if we adopted a youthful, open, curious mind in business?
I am reminded of one of the most powerful influences on my thinking, which is the masterpiece of Zen literature, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, which opens in this way:
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.
So, to paraphrase, we need to devise a learning culture based on the premise that we are always beginning, never finished. Each of us is constantly developing new observations, new premises, concocting new explanations for what is going on. And our business culture needs to support that, and not suppress the curiosity that animates beginner’s mind.