By Jeff Klein
Short Answer: Learning, growth and development – for individuals, teams and organizations – are essential to resilience, adaptability and sustainability.
There are some meaningful distinctions between the three.
Learning: a process of acquiring or changing knowledge, understanding, behaviors, skills and competencies.
Growth: a process of increasing in size, scope, scale, capacity or quantity over time
Development: a process of progressive systematic change (psychological, emotional, perceptual intellectual, physical, etc.) that occur over time.
All three are natural processes for living organisms, including organizations. When they are active, the organism is alive; when they are dormant, the organism (or organization) can be or seem to be dead, dying or inert.
We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. —Albert Einstein
To address the challenges and opportunities we face, we need to respond and adapt to an increasingly complex and rapidly changing environment.
Our brains can continue to generate new cells (neurogenesis) and rewire themselves (brain plasticity) as we age. Key to both neurogenesis and brain plasticity are ongoing learning and development.
Individuals who continually learn, grow and develop are literally more alive. When we support learning, growth and development in the workplace, we demonstrate our recognition of the value of our people and invest in their capacity. Employees who are challenged and supported to learn, grow and develop on the job are more engaged and have more to offer. Higher engagement leads to increased productivity, higher loyalty and retention, as well as reduced health care costs.
If among the areas where we focus our learning, growth and development are communication and collaboration, we cultivate teams that learn, grow and develop together, leading to organizations that do the same.
As we build an economy filled with people and companies that learn, grow and develop, we will foster a system that learns, grows and develops.
To a meaningful extent, the history of our species is one of learning, growth and development. At times during the human story we have made dramatic developmental shifts or leaps, comparable to the developmental steps an individual human being goes through during their life – from laying on our backs, to rolling over, to standing up, walking, running…
As a species we have come from our animal origins – experiencing our lives in the moment, through our senses, to developing the capacity to conceptualize reality and gradually developing evermore complex conceptual maps to intermediate our experience.
We now seem to be increasingly developing or expressing the capacity to reflect on our sensory experience and on our conceptual maps of reality as just that. This capacity of reflection or Conscious Awareness may be the next frontier for our learning, growth and development. It is a capacity and a skill that facilitates learning, growth and development in other areas and of other capacities, including those of connection and collaboration.
The Bottom Line
To address the challenges and opportunities we face requires new, broader and deeper or higher (i.e. another level of) insights, understandings and skills.
To truly bring Conscious Capitalism to life will require learning, growth and development at every level. What are you doing to learn, grow and develop? What are your team and your company doing to learn, grow and develop? What can you begin to do? Now!
In the next post in this series I will explore the idea of Going Deeper.
Jeff Klein is CEO of Working for Good, a company that activates, produces and facilitates mission-based, Stakeholder Engagement Marketing™ campaigns and Conscious Culture development programs.
Jeff is a founding trustee of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. and authored the award-winning book, Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living, to support conscious entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, leaders and change agents at work. He is offering a 6-week tele-course entitled It’s Just Good Business, beginning September 22, 2011, which will subsequently be available for download.
For more information visit workingforgood.com