I wrote a post over on Mission to Learn this week about four models for learning outside of the traditional degree path. It occurred to me afterward that there is an organizational corollary to this post. Namely, organizations might better engage, serve, and generate more business with their stakeholders by actively supporting these learning models.
In brief, the models are:
- Studying with a guru
This one was inspired by Seth Godin’s recent announcement of his “Alternative MBA” program.
- Learning from consultants and advisers
Not just collecting “deliverables,” but actively learning from the experiences these people offer.
- Learning from colleagues
Seeking out and engaging fellow employees, partners, suppliers, etc. who can help you in your quest for personal learning.
- Do It Yourself self-study
Based off of the Personal MBA, an approach to business education built off of a list of 77 essential books.
(See the Mission to Learn post for more on each.) All of the above models rely on the individual’s motivation to learn and willingness, but organization’s can help by providing connections to resources and people and also by helping learners develop skills that contribute to successfully leveraging each of the models.
Most associations already do this to some extent, but I am not sure they do it with the intentionality or understanding of the individual learner’s needs that they might. Learning is too often seen as a time and place-constrained “event” rather than an ongoing process of engagement and support. How might things change if, instead of viewing ourselves as purveyors of content, we see ourselves as helping members to actively maximize the value of each of the models above?
Unlike associations, most commercial businesses wouldn’t even think to ask such a question, but some innovative early adopters are beginning to realize its power in a commercial context. Take a look at Stephen Covey’s community site, for example, which arguably incorporates all of the above into a vibrant customer learning community.
I’ll be writing much more about customer learning – and providing more examples – in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, I’d encourage you to spend some time on Covey’s site and think about what sort of value a similar approach might generate for your customers and your organization. Could you use such an approach to support one of the learning models above and perhaps attract new customers and members while increasing engagement and loyalty among your current base?
Food for thought for the holidays.
Hedgehog & Fox
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