Education is not read articles, books, courses attended, conferences attended or meetings. All of the above is important, but there is a second component, about which so far little has been said. In fact, training should be the main goal in life, and your current activity - only a means of achieving it.

This is roughly how Professor Bradley Staats sees the situation. And he has a couple more interesting conclusions.

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This post is a translation of the transcript of the Knowledge @ Wharton radio show with Bradley Staats, Professor at the Kenan Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, and author of Never Stop Learning: Stay Relevant, Reinvent Yourself, and Thrive (“Never Stop Learning: Be in trend, reinvent yourself and prosper ”). The book explains the benefits and philosophy of dynamic (continuous) learning, describes methods to increase its effectiveness throughout life. Around her, this conversation took place. The study of a sample of Leader-ID analytic data pushed us to translate it. We drew attention to the sharp surge in activities related to education in the past year. Their number has almost tripled.

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The graph shows the amount of lectures, seminars, courses and conferences held in the categories of "Education", "Vocational Education", "Further Education" and several others. The forced universal transition to online has slowed down this trend, we are waiting for the statistics to show when all the venues where the events take place again.

So let's get back to Staats.

When things change


Knowledge @ Wharton: The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said that no man can enter the same river twice because it is not the same river, and he is not the same person. In other words, changing reality is the only constant in the universe. In our days of globalization and rapidly developing technologies, this truth is as relevant as in the days of Heraclitus. In order to continue to work and live in a rapidly changing world, continuous education and self-improvement are necessary.

So what is the difficulty of continuing education?

Bradley Staats : I think you have perfectly explained why we need to study. If we fail, we risk becoming unnecessary. We are late in solving yesterday’s problems, instead of tomorrow’s. However, the main problem is how it turned out that we are just learning poorly. Very bad. In fact, we often find ourselves the worst enemies of ourselves. Instead of doing things that help us learn, we do the opposite. My research, my work with companies, and this book are all aimed at trying to explain this. What do we need to do? Why does our behavior often lead us in the wrong direction? And most importantly, how can we influence this?

Knowledge @ Wharton: Why are we found learning very poorly " ?

Staats : The problem often comes down to the fact that we are focused on solving short-term problems, and what we are doing at the moment does not help us in training in the long term. Let's take failure as an example. Of course, we want to avoid failure. We do not like when something goes wrong. This is not very convenient. But we also recognize that if we are going to introduce something new and reach new heights, it is unlikely to be the first time. But because of the fear of failure that many of us have that our organizations often impose on people, we never try something new, we never move in a direction that could allow us to create something extraordinary.

Knowledge @ Wharton: How can we accept failure and recognize its value?

Staats : It’s worth understanding that failure is a means to an end and the goal is learning.


In the book I talk about why we do not want to try something new. This is the fear of failure. We often exaggerate the negative consequences due to the emotions of anxiety and shame that we experience. We think so much about what can go wrong and don’t spend enough time thinking about what can go right. Sometimes we don’t even notice what is happening around us. We rethink the environment to make ourselves think that everything is in order when everything goes bad.

To value failure is to be open to the environment in which we are. Pixar co-founder Ed Kathmull once said: “Mistakes are not necessary evil. They are not evil at all. They are an inevitable consequence of the fact that we are doing something new. ” I think this quote helps us understand the value of failure. It is not about intentionally looking for how to do something wrong. The concepts of “quick failure” and “shoot first and then aim” are a recognition that we must be ready to get out of the current situation, try a new one, then watch what happens, get new experience and adapt to changes.

Knowledge @ Wharton: You say that in order to stay in trend, we must constantly study. What is dynamic learning?

Staats : Dynamic learning involves four steps, which I will call four F.


First is the focus (FOCUS), or the choice of topics that we are going to study. What do we say no to say yes to something else? Where are we going to get deeper knowledge? Where are we going to make an impact? This means choosing an area and moving in that direction.

The second F is speed (FAST), because pace matters. After we have chosen what we are running for, we should be able to move in this direction and quickly gain speed. This is not “excellent, I will be back to you in three years with my approach”, but rather, it is about days, weeks, months.

Third F is FREQUENT in our training.

Opportunities appear at an unexpected time or in an unexpected place, so we need to constantly look at how we can improve what we are doing, how we can recognize the need to change direction. We choose the area in which we will work right now, but this does not mean that we will do it right every time. In fact, people who do not stop learning understand that they are often mistaken. Therefore, as soon as they accelerate, they are ready to slow down, change direction and move on to the next opportunity. This is Fourth F - FLEXIBILITY.

If you can keep focus, move fast, devote time to training regularly and be flexible, consider that you already have the tools you need for dynamic learning.

Elements of dynamic learning


Knowledge @ Wharton: What is the process of becoming a person who is constantly learning?

Staats : In the book, I will explore the various steps we need to take to become one. I highlight eight elements that make up dynamic learning, so first I’ll talk about them and then answer your question.

First of all , this is the idea of ​​failure that I talked about - the willingness to try something that may not work, but that will give you experience and with which you can move farther.

Second is the understanding that the process really matters . During training, we too often focus only on the result, not the process. Yes, sometimes you can do everything wrong, but get a good result. You are just lucky. And sometimes you do everything right, but nothing happens. Therefore, if we do not focus on the process, we will never get to the right place.

Third is the ability to ask questions . We tend to rush into answers. We tend to think that we need to go, go, go, but we must stop and ask questions.

The Fourth related to this is the time we need for reflection and reflection . One of my mentors advised me not to wallow in business to the detriment of thoughts.

The next two steps concern us. Recognize your need to be not a bad imitation of other people, but yourself . Awareness of your strengths will help you learn.


What really energizes you and allows you to use all your best qualities? We often think of learning in this way: how can I fix what is wrong with me now? Instead, you should ask yourself: what am I doing well? This is the sixth element . What makes me different from others? These are your personal competitive advantages. How will you work on their development?

Seventh element deals with the range and depth of knowledge. I believe that in training we should strive to be T-shaped. That is, we must have deep knowledge in certain areas, but we must also appreciate the breadth of knowledge.

And the last element is the criticism we receive from other people . People educate us and provide valuable knowledge. They point us to our possibilities so that we can do more.


When we implement these eight elements, we have a chance to achieve the goal of dynamic learning.

Knowledge @ Wharton: Let's go into more detail. Does the ability to ask questions seem easy?

Staats : Often the opposite. When I work with companies, I’m interested to find out: why people don’t speak? Research shows that there are several different reasons. The first is our constant employment: a lot of things happen in our lives. When we look at something that is not quite right, there are alarming sounds in our head, but there is the next thing on the to-do list, or the next notification of an upcoming meeting, or a phone call. Therefore, we continue to run.

It is always worth taking a step back and looking at your calendar. What is in it: important things or urgent?

The second thing that keeps us from speaking is self-censorship. We have time to ask a question, we are sitting at this meeting, but we decided not to raise a hand. Why?


First, we think incorrectly about how people will judge us for asking questions. If I say that I do not know this, it will be like returning to elementary school, where the children will laugh. But what's interesting (and research proves this quite convincingly): when we ask questions, people love us more. They see in us curiosity and involvement, if this, of course, is a question in the subject.

There is tremendous value in overcoming the fear of asking questions. Some of my favorite studies on this topic have been about quick dating. He showed that people who asked more questions were more likely to agree to dates. Therefore, the ability to ask questions helps not only at work.

Another element of self-censorship is that sometimes we are not aware that we need to ask a question. We lack an accurate picture of what surrounds us. This is a kind of test for selectivity of attention. We tend to identify only certain things and do not understand what we are missing. We are so focused on individual pieces of wood that we do not see the forest.

Knowledge @ Wharton: What role does rest and relaxation play in enhancing our learning ability?

Staats : I think it’s fair to say that today we are obsessed with activity. We think that if we do not do something, then this leads to problems. We begin to get nervous if we cannot reach the phone. Recently, my new colleague asked me why someone has not responded to email for several hours. I said that a few hours is not so long. And he replied that in his previous organization, people were measured by the speed with which they answered emails. In a sense, this indicates zeal. On the other hand, will your fastest answer always be the right answer and the best way to move forward? Most likely not.

We must acknowledge our addiction to activity. We want others to see that we are busy with something, and this is a problem.My favorite example that I give regarding this is football and penalties. Researchers studied the data on goalkeepers to find out where they often jump - left or right. It was found that almost all the time they moved right or left, but only in 6% of cases remained in the middle of the gate. But when the blows were investigated, it turned out that they were distributed approximately equally to the left, in the middle of the gate and to the right.

Then the researchers told the goalkeepers: "If you don’t jump anywhere and stay in the middle, you can catch more balls." This is the optimal strategy: sometimes jump, sometimes stay put. Mostly goalkeepers told researchers: “We are not going to do this. We see the data, we believe the data, but we are not going to do it. ” When the researchers asked why, the goalkeepers replied that they would regret not jumping. One of them said:

"If I jump, my face will be in mud, grass will fall into my mouth, and everyone will agree that I did everything I could."


“But if I just stand, it will seem to everyone that I didn’t even try to stop the ball.”

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This is exactly what we do at work. But we must be ready to retreat for a while to rest and reflect.

Knowledge @ Wharton: Let's talk about learning from others. If we openly ask questions, then not only the one who asked the question will study, but the rest of the people around.

Staats : You are absolutely right. When you ask a question, there is a chance that a handful of other people at the same meeting are also asking this question. As a leader, you must make it clear that if someone asks a difficult question, this will not lead to execution, you should encourage this behavior. We often think that tasks are much more individual than they really are. We become obsessed with our small part without seeing the task more broadly.

When we work with other people, we have the opportunity to ask questions. And we can share what we know. We conducted a study studying the power of teaching. In an organizational environment, when I teach others, I better absorb my own material. I better understand the product design or strategic plan. Inclusion of others is very important in dynamic learning.

Knowledge @ Wharton: What steps can organizations take to improve their learning environment? Give examples of companies that do a good job of this.

Staats : I would highlight the work Deloitte is doing with respect to the performance evaluation process. I mentioned earlier that we face a difficult task - to focus on the process, not the result. The traditional annual review of results often includes multi-level ratings, and the main question behind this is “what have you done for us lately?” Deloitte not only removed this rating in many areas, but also tried to evaluate effectiveness on an ongoing basis. Every two weeks or weekly, depending on the project, you meet with your supervisor. You have mentors and trainers who help you in the process. If you communicate every two weeks, you really have an understanding of the process, right? You begin to understand how a person spends his time, what he does, how it can help him. This is much easier to understand. And if all you do is look at the results of twelve months, it's hard to understand what people actually did during this day. And if we are talking about development, then this is really worth paying attention to.

Another example is the idea of ​​power. We did some work with Deloitte, exploring how we can help people discover their strengths, particularly when they come to the organization. What can we do to help them harness these strengths? We know that strengths and their use are critical to employee engagement.

Knowledge @ Wharton: Companies are now collecting data on so many things! They use people analytics to understand the meaning of this data. How do you think companies can better use data and analytics to make informed decisions? Could you give some examples?

Staats : Oh, that's interesting. I think that you are absolutely right that the world of people analytics has opened up many possibilities. Now I would call most of my research people analytics. When I started them 15 years ago, this term did not exist. I think we have a chance to understand what drives performance in the good sense of the word. We can understand what makes it difficult to be effective. A number of different organizations with which we worked sought to understand what sets people up for success by considering them individually or as part of a project team, and then tried to combine data with business knowledge. In many places, these things still exist separately. If you think you need an HR, analyst, and business expert, find a way to bring them all into one room so that you not only understand the data, but also begin to adjust the course.

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