“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
These are words lifted from a very influential book, Future Shock, written by author Alvin Toffler in 1970. More than three decades later, these words remain as relevant as the first day the original edition was published.
Investing in People
Many business corporations, government agencies, and other kinds of organizations have embraced the need to invest in their people. Illiteracy is simply unacceptable in daily life and in the context of pursuing a livelihood, business, or profession. For this reason, organizations, both big and small, allot time and resources for human resource development and training.
The provision of a workshop facilitation training program to develop trainers from among the ranks of the organization is also an integral part of human resource development. Companies need not always rely on experts from the outside; they can build their own leaders, facilitators, and mentors from within the organization and deploy them as catalysts for productivity and growth.
These kinds of training may cover a host of topics, disciplines, or skill sets. In some cases, it would also involve a form of testing and certification. Throughout the year, sessions are held to provideworkers, employees, and professionals with knowledge on subject areas such as leadership, strategic planning, policy reform, process improvement, and productivity, to name a few. Current trends in training go beyond the usual classroom type discussions and group dynamics on-site. Virtual training is now very common, allowing large companies with workers from different branches to come together in a shared, online learning environment.
Investing in the people within an organization is an indispensable part of organizational growth. Even billionaire businessman and investor Richard Branson says this:”Customers come second, employees come first. It’s a philosophy that brings unexpected benefits to both the company and its clients.”
Further, the ever-changing environment also dictates that organizations of every type and specialty need to be robust and resilient to change. Organizational strength and flexibility can only be developed by decision-makers and followers when they are allowed to better themselves through higher levels of education and training.Being denied this opportunity for growth is a form of illiteracy that stifles the potential of organizations and the individuals within it.
Using the Principle of Multiplication, progressive organizations and companies exert efforts to identify, select, and empower leaders. These leaders are provided opportunities to gain new information, insights, and practical skills in organizational communication, vision and goal setting, strategy management, and facilitation skills in-person or in virtual work communities where everyone contributes and collaborates towards a common objective or task.
An excellent example of this is the military, where promotion to a higher rank entails greater authority and benefits. The promotion of a commissioned officer to the next higher level, however, also requires greater responsibility for the welfare and performance of the rank-and-file. The promotion is not handed down to officers on a silver platter. Quite the contrary, they have to earn it through performance, achievement, and in-service education. It is mandatory in many military organizations to require senior ranked officers to obtain master’s degrees or even a doctorate as a prerequisite to achieving a star rank (an Army general, for example) or flag officer level (an Admiral in the Navy, for instance).
In the civilian corporate world, a similar format or process is also followed. Junior executives are typically assigned to undergo training in several programs deemed necessary to prepare them for senior management positions.
Common to both organizations is the emphasis on building teams. There is a premium for creating groups that know how to learn and develop. Successful teams are composed of dynamic individuals who jointly pursue a work ethic and lifestyle that is characterized by curiosity, a desire for achievement, and a passion for innovation. In Japan, this is often referred to as “kaizen,” or a process of continuous improvement. Studies also show that adopting the said ‘kaizen’ method not only results in increased productivity but also improved sense of well-being among employees. Though initially applied in the manufacturing sector, the organizational development principle of “kaizen” is valuable in terms of promoting participation, learning, and innovation that applies to all industries.
Business Growth & Resilience
Toffler, in his book, also warned that certain professions would go extinct if the need for change or innovation is not recognized. He says, for example, that the knowledge and skill set of an engineer today would be radically different from what is to be expected from the said professional in 10 or 20 years.
When applied to organizations, it is the ability to recognize shifts and revolutions in knowledge, skills, and frameworks that will help guarantee their continued growth in the years and decades to come. Amidst the twists and turns of the business environment, and waves of invention and obsolescence, organizations and individuals must remain ready and willing to learn, unlearn, adapt, and thrive.