Learning Agility: Why innovating is so important

In my last post I spoke about the topic of Learning Agility and briefly described the five areas of LA based on research from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). In my comments today I will go into greater depth on the first of these areas, Innovating.

As a refresher, here are the five areas of Learning Agility:

  1. Innovating: Agile learners are not afraid to challenge the status quo
  2. Performing: Agile learners remain calm in the face of difficulty
  3. Reflecting: Agile learners take time to reflect on their experiences
  4. Risking: Agile learners purposefully put themselves in challenging situations
  5. Defending: Agile learners are simply open to learning and resist the temptation to become defensive in the face of adversity

As the list shows, Agile learners are not afraid to challenge the status quo. What does this mean? Here are a few thoughts about what challenging the status quo might look like:

  1. Questioning why things are done the way they are
  2. Reflecting on why they are done that way and the history of the traditional methods
  3. Gaining input and insight from within and outside of the organization or work unit to see how others view the current way of doing things
  4. Not being afraid of “slaying sacred cows” when they no longer meet the needs of the current or future status of the organization
  5. Having the fortitude and strength to stand in the face of winds that blow back against the changes you or others might propose to challenge the current methods employed

I could list multiple examples of how Innovating has been used by agile learners, but one of my favorites would involve phone service. When I was younger everyone had a “land line” as their primary method of communicating with others via the telephone. The phrase “phone company” brought to mind giant firms such as the Bells and no one every thought that there could be a challenge to their dominance in the market.

The growth of cellular service and the internet has eroded, if not destroyed the concept of the “land line” to the extent that the percentage of homes with land lines decreased from almost 100% in 1998 to 71% in 2011. Current data shows that land line usage hasdropped to almost 40%, a startling decrease. This kind of change came from innovative thinking, the kind of thinking that we speak of in Learning Agility.

How are you using innovation or innovative thinking in your workplace?