Tap Into the Power of Learning Agility
Emily Stringer, Consultant Services Advisor, MBO Partners
George Hallenbeck, Director for Commercialization, Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)
00:00 Introduction of the event, MBO Partners, and speaker
04:07 Four distinct challenges and four essential skills that are unique to independent work
10:28 Definition of learning agility
27:13 One way to tell mastery and agility apart
31:18 Learning agility & career success
32:46 Learning agility & independent work
34:45 Learning agility: Realities & myths
35:56 Four core components of learning agility
43:31 Developing your learning agility
48:26 Build your bank of experiences
1:02:21 Closing Remarks
It's difficult to succeed as an independent professional if you're only focused on accomplishing tasks in a certain way. Conversely, running a business is more analogous to a continuous metamorphosis—that adapts and changes in order to grow and prosper.
Staying current and competitive requires a constant effort to expertly adapt your talents and offerings to meet your clients' constantly changing needs. You'll find yourself incapable of growth and movement if you firmly stick only to what has worked in the past.
In this exclusive webinar titled, “Tap Into the Power of Learning Agility,” George Hallenbeck, Director for Commercialization of the Center of Creative Leadership, discussed how to develop the ability to be adaptable and flexible at all times. He shed light on the basic behaviors of learning agility, how to cultivate them, and how to use them in the workplace.
This Q&A-style discussion covered:
- Methods of integrating changes into the workplace
- Basic behaviors of learning and cultivating efficiency and agility
- How to adapt to current trends in the market
- How to develop your innate creative abilities
Are you interested in attending the next webinar in the Professional Development series? View our upcoming events.
[00:00:05] Emily Stringer Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar, Adapt or Else: Tap Into the Power of Learning Agility, featuring George Hallenbeck of the Center for Creative Leadership. Next slide, please. My name is Emily Stringer and I will be moderating the webinar today. A little background on me, I've been with MBO for over eight years and have spent the last five advising and coaching our independent consultants. As a Consultant Services Advisor, I respond to requests from independents who are curious about MBO's service offerings. This is done through consultation appointments, where we learn more about your background and needs and determine if MBO services are the right fit for your business of one. Next slide, please. MBO's mission statement is to make it easy for independents and their clients to work together, we have built an ecosystem focused on the world of the independent. For a high level overview, we offer a complete, all inclusive business operating platform for independent consultants. We take care of the administrative items that are typically outsourced to several different vendors like business entity establishment, contract review, invoicing, expense review and processing, tax withholding and payroll, plus access to tax efficient portable benefits. Additionally, we offer a proprietary marketplace for independents called MBO Connect. Within our network, you can view opportunities from Fortune 500 client partners and find your next independent consulting project. Now for some housekeeping items on the webinar setup. First and foremost, you can see the controls listed here. Secondly, we will be emailing a slide deck and a recorded copy of the entire webinar to all of our registrants within the next week. Last, we will be taking questions throughout which will be addressed at the end of the presentation. And I encourage you to use the questions feature for any items that you would like us to discuss. Any questions that we do not get to will be answered via email after the presentation. Next slide, please. If you want to follow the presentation on Twitter, use #MBOWeb to submit your questions and comments @MBOPartners. Next slide, please. At this time, it is my pleasure to introduce you to our speaker, George Hallenbeck is the Director of Commercialization for the Creative, for the Center of Creative Leadership, where he leads an innovative platform called All Access Leadership, which is focused on creating scalable solutions that empower and enable clients to deliver CCL's content in ways that match their needs and strategies. George earned his B.A. in Psychology from Colby College and a MS and Ph.D. in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Colorado State University. He has co-authored eight books and has written numerous white papers and journal articles, as well as pieces for publications such as BusinessWeek Online and CLO magazine. He regularly participates in other thought leadership efforts, including speaking engagements, webcast and blogging. George, at this time, I'll turn it over to you.
[00:03:43] George Hallenbeck Thank you, Emily, and thank you, everyone, for attending today. I look forward to sharing with you more about learning agility. It's probably one of those skills that you've heard about. It's been putting a lot of skills you need for the 21st century-type of articles. But I look forward to talking to you today about what it's really all about, what it means to you and how you can develop it. But before diving into the main topic, I actually want to go back a little bit to an MBO webinar that I delivered in January. And that does set a little context for our discussion today. So the theme of that webinar was on individuals who are seeking to make the transition from more traditional full time employee type of roles to working independently. And we really took a close look at specific challenges that are unique to independent work that a lot of people who have made that transition told us really came to them as something of a surprise. It's kind of like, oh, okey, so you're an independent worker now. This is kind of what life is like. So we highlighted four of those distinct challenges. And the first one is what we called "Embracing What You Don't Know." So when it comes to being in business for yourself, talent and passion, while very helpful and necessary to some extent, aren't sufficient, aren't enough for you to succeed. And so when it comes down to it, it's often the things that they didn't teach you in school that often make the difference in achieving sustainable success, that make that difference between being able to do something well and actually making a living at it. So some of the specific challenges that we heard from independents that fell into this bucket included just simply getting enough clients to earn a living and stay independent. Balancing the competing needs of delivery, as well as business development, juggling multiple projects simultaneously, and also just learning to market yourself and the value of what you deliver. Just being good at something doesn't sell itself. So really making that impression of value with the customer. Another challenge that we highlighted was almost a continual ongoing "Navigating Ambiguity and Uncertainty". You know, some people described being independent is just an ongoing exercise in dealing with ambiguity. In some of the things that stood out here that were particular, we're dealing with fluctuations in the business cycle, the peaks and valleys, the ups and downs, the on and off mode of doing things. Also having an erratic and unpredictable schedule, you know you could work 14 hours one day and five the next, stay at home one day and be dashing all over town into the airport the next.
[00:06:35] George Hallenbeck Dealing with rapid changes in circumstances beyond your control. And also a very tough decision at times in terms of deciding which clients to accept and which to reject doing work with. A third challenge that we uncovered was Fostering Community. It's difficult, if not impossible, to succeed completely on your own. And oftentimes it can be a lonely pursuit. However, it's tough to reach out and form those connections and build a community around you that will really support you and help to nurture your success. So that was one challenge.
[00:07:13] George Hallenbeck And then the final one that we highlighted was dealing with messy and unpleasant situations. Now things go wrong in any line of work. But when you're working as an independent, they take on a different nature because there can be much more at risk. And also you can really wind up being in the spotlight both with having to be accountable for the problem having occurred in the first place, but also having the full responsibility at times with fixing it.
[00:07:39] George Hallenbeck So those were four particular challenges that we pointed out, but then we moved from there into highlighting four essential skills that many freelancers and independents told us were essential for them to navigate those challenges and also just really sustain their success and what they were doing. So the first one that we uncovered is Community Building. So, again, I just need to get out there and connect. And networking is a particular skill that's helpful for building community. And back in March, my colleague Jessica Glazer did an MBO webinar that went deep into networking skills for independence.
[00:08:19] George Hallenbeck Another key skill was authenticity. You've got to be self-aware on the inside, but then also project that on the outside in a specific way to do that is by creating and promoting your own personal brand. And my colleague Glenn Miller explored this in an MBO webinar in May. Third was resilience. So we've kind of used a mountain climbing theme here for some of our pictures. And so to borrow from that on your way to scaling the peak, you can encounter a lot of hazards. And oftentimes, too, you'll reach the top of one of one peak and see that there's a bigger one to scale beyond it. So I think that's a good metaphor and a lot of ways to be independent and therefore it takes a lot of ability to bounce back stronger than before. And Jessica, again, who did the webinar in March on networking, she's going to be back in November and she's going to share her perspective and some really great tips on helping to build your resilience.
[00:09:19] George Hallenbeck So that brings us to today and the final skill that we highlighted during that webinar, and I'll go deeper and today all has to do with making transitions. So in your career as an independent, where you start is hardly ever where you wind up and your vision for what you want to achieve, as well as how you're going to get there often just needs to morph on an almost constant basis, sometimes daily. And that can be both in terms of opportunities that come your way that might cause you to shift course, as well as being sometimes blown off course by difficulties that you might encounter. So that need to constantly shift and adapt is often very present in the work that independents do. And that's really where learning agility comes in. So to tell you a bit more about what we'll cover today, it's really just three simple things, really getting down to the essentials of what is learning agility. Why is it important for independent work? And also some personal information for you in terms of things that you can do to develop your learning agility. So what is learning agility? This will be a theme kind of throughout the webinar, but just to kind of give you a common definition, it's this: so learning agility can be defined as the ability and willingness to learn from experience and subsequently apply that learning to perform successfully under new or first time conditions.
[00:10:49] George Hallenbeck And interestingly, the most important word in that definition is "and". So both in terms of the ability and the willingness to learn from experience. So it's not only a skill, but it's also, to a degree, something of a trait. And that you have to have the desire and the will to learn from an experience that doesn't happen on its own and will illustrate that in just a moment. And then the other is the "and" in terms of subsequently applying that learning to perform successfully under new first time conditions. Just the guarantee of having learned something from your experience doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't that further step to go of applying that learning when in new situations. And that takes a particular skill as well. So another way to think about learning agility in a more informal way, which really appeals to me, is to describe it as: it's the art of knowing what to do when you don't know what to do. And so people who are learning agile, they're really good at kind of parachuting into situations, situations they may never have experienced anything quite like before, and quickly figuring out a way to both understand what it is that they need to do to be successful and deal with whatever situation is at hand, but then also really quickly acquire and hone their skills to get them through that situation. And so after today, if you run into any colleagues or friends and say, hey, I saw this webinar learning agility, and they say, well, what's learning agility? Just tell them it's knowing what to do when you don't know what to do and then take the conversation from there.
[00:12:30] George Hallenbeck So a little bit more about learning agility then and trying to give you a sense for how it appears in people. So this next slide kind of makes the point that actually learning agility is a straight that it really doesn't know a particular demographic, whether it's age, gender, ethnicity, type of education, you've had, some people demonstrate a very high degree of learning ability. So a lot of people are somewhere in the middle. And then there are some individuals who show relatively few of those skills. So it's one of those things that we say is kind of more normally distributed within the population, sort of one of those bell curve types of skills. And so there isn't really any way to be across from anybody and just by who they are to really know if they're wearing out or not, how it really shows up is in how people really react, particularly in situations where they're faced with new opportunities for learning. So to illustrate that a little bit more, I want to tell you a story, and this goes back to some of my own personal experience. Earlier in my career, I did executive assessment. And so I often would sit down with managers and executives who worked in the same company. And I would interview sometimes 50, 70, 80 people from the same organization.
[00:13:51] George Hallenbeck And a lot of them would work together on similar projects. And I would always ask people, hey, what did you learn from that experience? And I learned from talking to people who had been part of the same experience that often one, two, three individuals who walk away with very different lessons learned from that experience. And that intrigued me at the time. And later, as I learned more about learning agility, it became a little bit more clear to me as to why that was occurring. So I'll tell you a story about these two individuals. We'll call them Victor and Ana. And so they're both independent professionals who spent the last several months working together on helping their mutual client develop and launch an important new product. And they were both hired based on their very strong reputations and their skill, and they both played critical roles as part of this larger project team that included both full time employees of the client organization and themselves working in an independent contractor status.
[00:14:46] George Hallenbeck So let's learn a little bit more about Victor and Ana. So here's Victor and some aspects of his bio. So he's been doing independent work now for three years. He's got his Master's in Engineering. Previous to going independent. He was definitely a rising star within the company he worked for. He's really got a great track record going with getting patents. He's active in professional associations and he wants to take things further. He's really looking at that chance to enroll in getting his Ph.D.. So that's Victor.
[00:15:18] George Hallenbeck And here's Ana. She's about the same age, she's been doing independent work for a little longer and she's got a little bit more of a varied background. She's got her degree in history. She worked a little bit overseas. She's had roles in both sales as well as marketing and finance and in her capacity as working independently, she's always on the lookout for some assignments that will take her internationally. So, Victor and Ana, again, we're both part of the same project, and let's pretend that we spent a little time talking with them and learning what were their takeaways from that experience.
[00:15:55] George Hallenbeck So here's what Victor worked on. And as you see here, right off the bat, his learnings break down into different categories. There are some things highlighted here about things he learned about his job. And there are also some things with regards to things that he learned about working with other people. And the kind of the big "Aha!" The type of lessons were things that we put in bold. So just take a second, take those in. And so that's a little bit of what resonated with Victor from this experience.
[00:16:25] George Hallenbeck Now, let's compare that to what Ana learned? So, Anna, keep in mind here that she learned all the same things as Victor, those five lessons that we saw listed in that previous slide. But in addition to that, she also had some other takeaways. And you'll see here that not only did she learn some additional things about doing her job and working with others, she also had some lessons and an altogether new category of things that she learned about herself from that experience. So, I would ask you just to take a moment and don't reflect so much on the specifics of what it is that they learned, but more focusing on the difference, that Ana learned a lot more in terms of number and diversity of lessons. And just think about that for a second and just try to see if you can just kind of give some quick consideration to these questions while I queue up the next slide and just ask yourself what's going on here? Why is it that Victor and Ana show up differently in terms of Victor learning these things and Ana learning in a sense, so much more from her experience and as they enter into new projects in their roles as an independent, what might be some of the implications of what they see in there? Their different takeaways.
[00:17:49] George Hallenbeck So you go on that for a moment, and let me show you what I'm going to do next when we advance the next slide. An animation is going to appear and it's going to show you sort of our interpretation of honest learning experience and sort of think of this as almost a timeline of what Ana learned throughout the experience of working on this project.
[00:18:12] George Hallenbeck So I'm just going to let the animation play and when it's finished, I'll just share a little bit more commentary on that. So here we go. OK. So this really shows what we see as typical of a learning experience when someone really does have a growth experience and they walk away from that difference when they started. And interestingly enough, this doesn't typify what you might commonly think of as a learning curve. That's really more of a myth than reality. And a lot of ways learning is in some ways kind of a step back and two steps forward kind of experience. When you find yourself faced with a new challenge. And like Ana, if you throw yourself into it, you'll often find for a certain period of time you're kind of flailing about a bit and not altogether certain of what it is that you need to be doing to be successful or how to do those things well. And so we see that with Ana after she kind of faces the challenge of being in this new situation, new client, high profile project, maybe never launching a new product like this before, is part of a client gig. She's kind of just fumbling about saying, gosh, what do I do here? What do they expect of me?
[00:19:40] George Hallenbeck How do I contribute? But then just kind of when things seem darkest, it starts to click. She starts to get some feedback from things that she's doing well, not doing, and quickly then the learning starts to escalate and that you see then exiting that experience after going through that recovery period, she's actually left stronger, smarter, more aware than when she started the experience to begin with. And we see that reflected in her lessons. Now, I'm just going to take you on another journey through Victor's experience and a little bit is to see how we would see that unfold.
[00:20:16] George Hallenbeck So let's start that. OK, so here's Victor's experience, a bit different from Ana's when he started to feel that dip, that kind of "Hmm, not exactly sure what I've gotten myself into here kind of feeling" or,"Gee, I really don't know what it is I should be contributing" or how I show up successfully rather than follow that dip down that period of discomfort and flailing about a bit. He just kind of said, you know what, I'm going to stick to what I know. I'm a stick to what's worked for me in the past. I'm going to kind of not go too deep into those things that make me feel uncomfortable. I'm just going to kind of tiptoe around the edges of that. And so consequently, by all accounts, Victor did well in this experience. But, you know, in some ways he didn't do as poorly as Ana and he didn't do nearly as well because he just kind of stayed on more of a straight and level. He exited that experience much as he was the person when he began it. So he contributed sort of when he came, he saw he moved on. And so that's a typical reaction we see from people who really have a discomfort with the challenge that comes with new learning and prefer to stick to what they know, what's worked for them in the past. So let's look a little bit at the implications of that, what this means for you.
[00:21:44] George Hallenbeck So the first is just to really acknowledge that learning is a challenge. It doesn't come easy, particularly when it's learning by experience. This is different from classroom learning or even the type of learning that you might be going through right now listening to this webinar. This is real life work and it's difficult. And also, as we saw between the different reactions, between Victor and Ana, it's also a choice that people make, maybe not always a conscious choice, but it's a decision whether to throw yourself into it and maybe have some bumps and scrapes and bruises or just to kind of come through cleanly. And also and this is a really important one, is that to a degree, part of learning is failing. People might have looked at a kind of and said, boy, why we hire her on this or she doesn't seem to be really kind of getting with the program here or something. But again, that was almost a necessary step for her to go through in order to come out on the other side of things. And so learning again in real life, it's not always clean. It's often messy. And but if you really want to grow, sometimes you gotta go through that hard stuff. So I want to just dove just a little bit deeper into some of the differences that we typically see between individuals like Victor and Ana.
[00:23:01] George Hallenbeck I want to be very careful here, that I'm not casting either of them in an overly negative or positive light. They're just people who showed different approaches to their experience. And often it's indicative of a different approach that people take to their careers and they're learning. So typically within an organizational context, we would describe Victor as someone who is a high professional. He is all about engineering, and he is all about committing himself to that discipline and honing his expertise so he can really deliver on that to his clients.
[00:23:32] George Hallenbeck Likewise, in an organizational context, we would consider Ana is more typical of someone who is a high potential, that they are called upon often to do those things that they haven't done before to get into those parachuting into those new situations that are maybe new for them, oftentimes even new for the organization, and figure out a way to succeed. But at one level, there are actually a lot of similarities between Victor and Ana. So we're pointing out here that they're both high performers, they're both dedicated learners. More about that in the moment. They're hard to come by their rare talent and both in terms of deep expertise on one hand and more of a shapeshifter and multi talented person on the other end.
[00:24:15] George Hallenbeck And also, typically, people are high pros or hypos, as we call them, are both self-aware and very results oriented. So let's look a little bit at how they're different. So with regards to Victor. We'll see here that he is really oriented towards these things when he's in a situation he wants to dig deep as it relates to his particular base of knowledge that tends to value coming to finite kinds of sound conclusions on things. When you put him on the spot, he's more likely to play to that base of expertise to say things like, well, we should do this or we should do that, or by research and experience tells me that. And likewise, given that kind of bearing in orientation, he tends to excel within a particular set of circumstances that really play well to those things that he knows and does exceptionally well.
[00:25:12] George Hallenbeck Likewise, we look at Ana and again, there's almost kind of a comparison back and forth, Victor's more oriented towards depth, breadth , what's new, what's different, what can expand my understanding and awareness. While he values certainty. She's comfortable with embracing the unknown and kind of swimming around in that ambiguity. Likewise, put her on the spot. She's more likely to pose a question, of what if we do this or have we tried that? What do you think about this?
[00:25:43] George Hallenbeck And likewise to, again, her orientation, the way she approaches her career in situations she's better set up to thrive across a different set of varied circumstances. So let's talk about that. Learning peace. So, again, digging a little bit deeper into Victor's approach, I would say it's more indicative of a mastery orientation. And while this is not certain hypos or excuse me, high pros will vary from situation to situation.
[00:26:15] George Hallenbeck But again, someone like Victor is more oriented towards clearly defined problems where there are some concrete facts to work with. Often there is kind of considered the best or right solution to be arrived at and again, often serves to answer the question at hand. Likewise, by comparison, someone like Ana favors more of that agile orientation. Or again, the problems are ambiguous, facts are sometimes few are hard to come by. You kind of have to make things up a bit as you go along to make your own solutions. And oftentimes the solutions you come up with will only lead to generating more questions. So to sum that up, in a way, there's a little time tested tip I have, which is a sort of a quick way, a shortcut to identifying people who either have more of this mastery, high pro orientation or more the agile hypo orientation. So I tell people it's often the differences between the number of plaques on the wall versus the number of stamps on their passport.
[00:27:21] George Hallenbeck People who are high-pros again, they really wore their expertise on their sleeve as well. They should have worked hard for it and likewise with the people who are agilely oriented or constantly seeking breadth and newness and adventure, to some degree, you're always asking where in the world are they are where did you just come from, if you've seen them?
[00:27:43] George Hallenbeck So just keep those two tips handy. Now, hopefully, as you've been listening to this, you've been thinking, as you should, a little bit about yourself. So we've got a poll, for you here and Emily, if we could kick the polling apparatus into OK, looks like the poll's open, I just like you to answer for yourself. Looking at yourself and forcing you to make a choice, which do you see yourself as kind of more typical? Do you see yourself as having more of that mastery or orientation or more of the agility orientation? So we'll just keep that open for a second or two longer and then, Emily, I think you'll be able to share with us kind of how the percentages are breaking down.
[00:28:28] Emily Stringer Yes, George, we are at sixty two percent voted. I'm going to give everybody about five more seconds for those who have not chimed in yet. But so far, it's looking like we have an agility orientation as our majority here. So our results have come up 37 percent mastery orientation versus 63% agility orientation.
[00:28:52] George Hallenbeck OK, about a third, two thirds. OK, well, great, thank you for sharing that.
[00:28:57] George Hallenbeck We'll have another poll a little bit later on on a different aspect. But let's look a little bit at the implications of that. And like I said earlier, there's really no judgment that we're putting on one orientation or the other. They both have extreme value. But you could also make the case that you don't want to be so strongly weighted on one of the others. So sometimes here's something for you to kind of chew on, is a challenge, if you will, is let's say if we look at being a T shaped individual on one axis, more along the top of the T, we would look at that as more of the experience orientation, the breath leading you in different directions versus on the vertical part of the T is really more of that building skill in a particular area and pursuing that mastery orientation. So if you're one of those thirty seven percent who sees you as kind of anymore, that mastery poll see if you can challenge yourself to find opportunities to while still sticking to that base of expertise you built, find some opportunities to branch out a little bit, get yourself out of your comfort zone, perhaps a little bit more, and pursue some things maybe you wouldn't normally pursue just for the pure learning of it.
[00:30:11] George Hallenbeck And so that also, too, you can show up in different ways to your clients, perhaps bring some value in some different ways than you hadn't previously. For those of you, the 60 some percent or so that find you more oriented towards broader experience or agility.
[00:30:28] George Hallenbeck See if you can pause yourself for a period of time and dig a little deeper. There's always that tendency for people to learn to say, OK, I got the basic hang of this. That was cool. What's next? Let me move on to that next sort of challenge, see if you can maybe allow yourself to linger just a little bit longer and maybe take a second shot at a project or learning that takes you a little bit deeper into that particular skill or experience just so that when you're called upon, you can be ever more have a base of experience and skill to deliver in that particular area. And like I said, it's sort of a way of hedging your bets a little bit.
[00:31:06] George Hallenbeck And then those people who are in shape are truly exceptional. So if you like a challenge, I got one for you. So, all right, let's move on. And we're going to spend most of the rest of the time talking about development.
[00:31:22] George Hallenbeck But I just wanted to share a few things about sort of the value, sort of the somewhat related to learning agility. This is something that has been researched as a skill for over 30 years. So if you're more of a research geek, you can go out there and devour a lot of what's been captured in research. But these are some of the key takeaways. And again, I think some of those top four are the ones that I think are really probably of interest to a lot of you from an independent standpoint, if you really have that ability to get into situations and just really quickly pick things up.
[00:31:55] George Hallenbeck And that's kind of related to a lot of people who are learning. They rarely just someone who is learning naturally described themselves that way. They're more likely to say, you know what, I'm a lifelong learner or I'm a quick study. I pick things up fast. That's definitely what they do. Let's look at it a bit from the client perspective, though. And this is a survey that CCL did recently where we asked executives across a variety of different organizations and industries what values they are, what suits me, what skills that they really place a high value on in their future leaders. And you can see right at the top there this need for agility, adaptability, flexibility, speed that's tops on their list for the types of skills and capabilities that they're looking for. So if you're learning agile, you definitely fit that bill.
[00:32:45] George Hallenbeck And finally, let's just focus on more as it relates to your career as an independent. So I've offered up just five ways that there is a strong linkage between being learning agile and succeeding as independent. One is when you're brought into a new assignment, you know, you don't have that 90 days to get on board and acclimate like a full time employee, as you might have nine hours. And so how is it that you can use that skill to orient yourself quickly to the situation and what needs to be done and start getting on track with that? We talked earlier about the challenge of dealing with messy and unpleasant situations. Well, again, learning agility will help you to get to the bottom of what exactly is the problem and what is it that I need to try to address. Likewise, when you're out there in the marketplace, you can't be a stationary target. You know what the marketplace needs and how your industry or area is transforming constantly changing things. So you've got to be in constant motion and therefore having that willingness and desire to branch out to new things can serve you well as well as that ability just to be continually growing and adapting your skills. And finally, there's a lot of emphasis out there now on design thinking and lean startup and approaches like that. And one of the principles that is failing fast, it's about experimenting quickly, getting feedback from those experiments and making adjustments. And that's something that really kind of comes naturally to people who are learning now and again, as in an entrepreneurial type of situation, a very valuable skill to have. If you've got some other thoughts as to how learning agility as you've come to understand it to this point applies to your work as an independent, I encourage you to put those into the questions space and we'll collect those and maybe reflect on those a little bit later. And also, as Emily mentioned earlier, any questions you have throughout what goes into the questions area? And we will deal with those on the tail end.
[00:34:44] George Hallenbeck Last thing before getting into development, just a little bit of level setting reality check. There is a lot of buzz out there about learning agility, and there are some things that are very true about it and some that just aren't. And so this here kind of reflects some of those things that you can kind of take to the bank with regards to learning agility. And then likewise, on the other hand, here are just some things that will not make you leap tall buildings in a single bound or, you know, what other outrageous claim you want to put on it. Again, it doesn't make you immune to failure. In fact, you can make the argument that people who are very natural tend to fail more often. What they don't do is they don't make the same mistake twice, and they also are very quick to learn in those situations where something goes wrong. And again, it's very unlikely to make you at the best of something, because that's more for the people who have that mastery orientation, people who are learning naturally or about getting a handle on something and then moving on to explore something new. All right. We'll spend the rest of the time just talking about developing learning agility. So I want to dove a little bit deeper beyond that first definition I gave you into what learning agility is. And so based on our 30 years of research and practice in this area, CCL's put together a four part model that really goes deeper into the behaviors involved in learning from experience and then applying that to new situations. So I want to introduce you to each of those four parts and the next slide.
[00:36:15] George Hallenbeck So the first is Seeking and that's that desire. This is where that willingness comes into play to really throw yourself into those new and challenging situations, as well as to once you've gone through those, really be on the lookout for what that next situation is. Hey, where can I find that new challenge, that new thing that I'm curious about and haven't done?
[00:36:36] George Hallenbeck So I'll dove a little bit deeper for each of these into some more specific behaviors that kind of capture that seeking. I'll just highlight one or two here. One is that the second one? Because I think one that really stands out and I've heard this time and time again from people who are learning agile and interviews that I've done with them and such, is that they come into any new situation, no matter how mundane it seems on the lookout and expecting that they can learn something from that situation.
[00:37:06] George Hallenbeck It's just that what's important here, what can I learn is always a question that's going on in their head. And also, again, this tendency to seek out new and diverse work experiences that they don't like to flip burgers over and over again. They want to go figure out how the fry machine works. And then after they've done that, they'll work on shaking the machine or something like that. But they're always moving around from thing to thing, in part because that's where they're oriented to go. Next skill here is Sensemaking, and this is where you used to see a lot of that frenzy of activity and just brimming with curiosity, that is typical of people who are learning agile and they just kind of like to pop the hood and just start messing around with stuff, seeing what works and what doesn't. So some of the more specific behaviors, and this is interesting, too, is that you might think that people who are learning naturally or maybe a little sure of themselves and just kind of very confident because, hey, I can figure my way out of any new situation, actually, quite the opposite. Most of them,in their more unguarded moments, are very modest, very humble, and that shows up in the fact that they really are interested as much in what other people think as well as what their own ideas are. And also they're very willing to admit that, hey, I'm kind of out of my element here.
[00:38:32] George Hallenbeck I'm a bit in over my head and I don't know what I'm doing. But hey. Give me a sense of how this works. Hey, let me try this out. They're not convinced that they have all the answers, even though it seems that in the end they figure it out. Next is Internalized, and this is almost kind of the opposite of the frenzy of sensemaking, this is really taking a pause and taking a deep breath to really soak the experience in. And one of the things that people who are learning naturally to really have a wisdom about is that they know that once an experience is over, doesn't mean that with learning stopped, they're always willing to go back and revisit it often, sometimes months, weeks later, and really see what new insight that they can glean from their experiences. And they're also very willing, kind of back to the unguarded aspect, to go and seek feedback from other people and say, hey, what is it that I can do? To add to my takeaways from this experience, if people have some criticism to deliver to them, they're willing to accept that versus excusing it away or rationalizing it or blaming the other person. And this is particularly helpful to them in what we call hardship situations where often circumstances beyond their control, they might have suffered a really significant setback or failure. They don't, again, try to just push that under the rug or pretend it never happened or just excuse the way they actually sit down, they take a long, hard look at themselves, what they did, what they didn't do, what they could have done differently, and really see what they can learn from that, despite maybe even what the pain of that experience might be.
[00:40:05] George Hallenbeck Last is the Applying - and this is really where all the big payoff is. So you've sought out a new experience, you've gone through the sensemaking, you've internalized those lessons. But now here you are facing a new challenge. And then how is it that you take that lesson from those other experiences that may be very different on the surface and see that you can apply the wisdom of your previous experience to help you in this new situation. So, again, some of the things that we see here is that people are able to make some pretty novel connections. I'll show a slide right at the end that kind of shows the web of experience. A lot of people are learning how natural people create for themselves and they're really able to piece things together in some pretty unique and novel ways. And also, again, the learning isn't always on the surface. Some of it is very intuitive and deep down, and they're very good at keeping in to that intuition and letting them guide them in those new situations. They might not always be consciously aware, but they're getting there. All right, another poll question for you here, having heard a little bit more about those four areas of learning agility, when you think about yourself and where you see an opportunity to develop, which of those four behaviors do you see is most critical for your development going forward? So we've got to poll open now, so select one of those four and Emily will share with us how that plays out.
[00:41:36] Emily Stringer Great. We will give everyone about 15 more seconds here to get their answers. And it looks like we are 57 percent voted right now. The majority so far chiming in, saying internalizing, applying is right behind. And we've got a few who are seeking or sensemaking. So we are at 66 percent. So I think we've maxed out here. Let me go ahead and close the gap and I'll give everybody our results. We have 14% at seeking 9% at sensemaking, 40% at internalizing. So that's our majority. And then 37% right behind at applying.
[00:42:19] George Hallenbeck OK, well, I'll be the tiebreaker here, and if I were to vote for myself, I would pick internalizing, too. I'm kind of one of those people I live my life on fast forward. And I don't always take that pause to really slow down and really dig through the implications. The woulda, coulda, shoulda. Or, hey, next time around, I'm going to do this differently. I have people, fortunately, who will help me do that. That's kind of my work around. But that's definitely something that is a challenge. And it just sort of requires some discipline as well as kind of sometimes willing to face our own shortcomings. So I encourage you all in there and going beyond where I'm going to share lately. There is a book that I've written for CCL called Learning to Truly Unlock the Lessons of Experience. And it goes a lot deeper into the skill development, each of those areas. So that's kind of chock full of some tips to help you out. But good. So set some goals for yourself before we're done here today and really see what you can just do in your roles right now in your day to day work as intended to move the needle on one or more of those skill areas. All right. Just a few closing thoughts here in terms of developing, much like I listed those three fundamental truths about learning from experience earlier. Think of learning Agility as a life skill. We've talked about a kind of in the context of work, but it applies well beyond that. I mean, whether it's with family, friends, your community, all the same principles apply. And oftentimes it's not uncommon to see people learn something in their personal life and apply that to their work situations and vice versa. That's another way to bridge that applying gap. If you're feeling it doesn't always have to be work to work, it can be worked to life, for life, to work. Again,it is something that can be learned and primarily through experience. Where it is one of those evenly distributed bell curve types of skills, anybody has the capacity to learn you now. You're not going to go from one extreme to the other, but you can definitely move the needle in terms of your ability to be more natural.
[00:44:30] George Hallenbeck And then finally, think of it like a muscle. It's fed by experience, especially new and challenging experiences. So if you're not feeding it, it will begin to level off or even atrophy, to some degree. So I want to wrap up just with again, because it's a diverse skill set, there are multiple approaches to developing learning agility. We often say that there's a mindset around each of the four skills, a particular skill set and then also a toolset. And so I want to spend a few minutes just focusing on the mind set piece, because often in a lot of ways, I think that's the most critical, because if you don't kind of have that willingness part down, that's oftentimes the mindset. It's harder to get to the skill piece. So I just want to talk a little bit about mindset as it relates to each of the four skill areas. And so here's some information in that regard. Seeking what I want to focus on. Each of these actually are the quotes, because I think in some ways they say more than the tips down below. And so Richard Branson, along with people, I would say like Oprah, Nelson Mandela, David Bowie, the list goes on. And not all necessarily celebrities are world leaders, but people who are learning agile, Richard Branson kind of screams that I love this quote. And he says, "If anybody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you're not sure you should do it, say yes, then learn how to do it later." I mean, I think in a lot of ways that just sort of sums up the ethos of a learning natural person. I don't know what I'm getting myself into here, but what I'll know, I'll gain something from it. So definitely get out of that comfort zone. That's the first step.
[00:46:12] George Hallenbeck All right. Let's. Take a look at Sensemaking again. Christiane Amanpour, definitely someone who's learned to succeed across a whole slew of different challenging situations, both in her life and her career. So she says "Everything that happens, if it's not what you hoped would happen is a valuable life learning tool. And you'll only achieve success if you know how to learn from your failures and your mistakes." That's again, that's what I said, learning. You don't, you don't learn without failing. And I'll close today with the thought on that as well.
[00:46:43] George Hallenbeck So again, I talked with one person and he said, you know what? For me, learning is like traveling to a foreign country. And it's like all the things that happen to you on a trip to a new country or kind of what sensemaking is like to me. You know, you approach things with a wide eyes and a beginner's mindset. You try things out on vacation that you wouldn't do back at home. And you know what? You're going to get lost in the subway at some point. But that's just part of the trip. That's part of the adventure. All right, internalizing again, this is the more reflective, less active mode of learning agility, and Peter Drucker sums it up well, says, "Follow effective action with quiet reflection, from the quiet reflection will come even more effective action." And so, again, the sense that learning is never done, never over. There's always something to dig a piece of wisdom out of an experience that might benefit you. Maybe tomorrow, maybe three years down the road. But there's always something to learn from the stuff you've experienced. And finally applying.
[00:47:51] George Hallenbeck An unknown quote here, but I think very, very well said "The past is where you learn the lesson, the future is where you apply it. Don't get lost in the middle." And again, the people who are learning agile because they're almost constantly in a state of asking themselves questions, not just externally, but internally as well. They're keeping those connections, their past experience, very active and alive. It's never very far from the surface for them. Again, they don't just move on and forget things. They keep it close at hand.
[00:48:26] George Hallenbeck So last piece of advice or insight here is again part of your path to becoming more learning agile is to seek out new experiences, but not all experiences are created equal. There are really three qualities that make for building what I would call a good bank of experiences. So their quality, quantity and diversity. Quantity hopefully should speak for itself and experiences and experiences. And we're not talking about just a meeting with a client. We're talking about thinking of it like a full project would be an experience or perhaps a two week trip to a new country would be an experience or taking a course would be an experience.
[00:49:09] George Hallenbeck But let's dive a little bit more into equality and diversity before we do that. One of the key research questions that we ask people is just very simply to think about an experience you've had and how that's had an important effect on how you leave. So just in the interest of time, ask you to kind of keep that up quickly. But segueing into this piece about the quality of learning experience CCL's research has captured these 10 traits that each contribute to a learning experience being a particularly high value. And so if you just cued up that experience you had, that has a significant effect on how you quickly run through that checklist of these 10 characteristics and see how many of those who check off. And typically we say the more of those characteristics that are present in any one experience just further adds to the richness and the power, the transformative power of that learning experience. And the other characteristic that I mention, too, is not just quality, but diversity of experience. So, again, CCL's research has captured 15 discrete categories of learning that can take place in different types of experiences. So, again, think about that experience. I had to queue up and identify which of these 15 categories it might have fallen into and it might even straddle one or two of them. And also a quick note, those ones that are called out for crisis, mistake and career setback, those are what we call those hardship experiences.
[00:50:47] George Hallenbeck Now, we don't often choose for those to happen? They often happen to us. But again, those can actually be some of the most potent learning experiences. So unfortunate as it may be, if they occur to you, really look at the gift aspect that they carry that deep within those experiences is real knowledge and wisdom to be gained to help you grow and move on. So once you've gotten past some of the emotional pain of those experiences, really dig deep and see what it is that you can learn from those and carry forward. And finally, again, I mentioned it's kind of a web of experience that people build with this combination of quantity, equality and diversity. And so if we were to kind of visit Victor and Ana, let's say we track them over a three year period of time, then each of these dots represents a different experience that they had. And the color of the dot represents a different category. More of the diversity aspect of experience and the degree to which the dot is filled in is indicative of the quality of the experience we see over Victor. I mean, hey, he's got some stuff to show for these last three years and he's picked up some things, that purple category, whatever that is. He's connected the dots, as it were, pretty well there. But compare that to Ana, who's been going out there and seeking and gathering new things to add to our understanding of different areas of experience. And she's built this really complex and tight web. Now, whenever the next dot comes on to her map of experience, she's got all those other things to connect, to help her out and that new experience. And to me, that's really an illustration of how this works in real life.
[00:52:35] George Hallenbeck So to wrap up, I just like you to take a moment to reflect and just think about what our next steps are for you in terms of your own journey with learning agility and what it means to your work as an independent. And so if you like, we appreciate if you want a jot, any of those thoughts down as they come to you in the chat window. And now we're at about five or seven minutes left in the webinar. So I would like to switch gears and just give you an opportunity to bring forward some of the questions that you have and so, Emily, if you have any that are queued up from earlier, any that are coming in now, I would love the chance to respond to those.
[00:53:20] Emily Stringer Great. That sounds perfect, George. But before we get an exodus from the webinar, we have a couple of polls to launch before we dive into this. So first order of business, we're going to make sure that everyone gets the information that they would like from this webinar, from either us or you. Then we will come back to any answers that have just been cued up and then we'll go right into the Q&A. So if everyone has a few minutes to hang around, we would love to have you. So first and foremost, we're going to get some polls up here. So would you like more information about George Hallenbeck and CCL? Yes or no? We'll leave this up for about 30 seconds. All right, thanks to those who have voted, we will go ahead and clear this one out. Next, would you like more information about MBO partners? And we'll leave this one up on the screen for about 30 seconds as well. All right, and we will close this out. And last, would you like more information about MBO Connect and an invitation as a reminder, this is our proprietary network for independent consultants to find their next project, perhaps that would be a way to put some of those agile skills into use. So we've got about 10 more seconds here.
[00:55:22] George Hallenbeck And while that's coming in, Emily, I'll just say it's great because we've got a lot of people sticking around after the questions. I have one more slide this year with a kind of interesting little factoid, if you will. So great. It's kind of like where the when the movie the trailer is going on the movie and then or the credits and then they cut in with like an extra scene, you know.
[00:55:44] Emily Stringer Oh, we love that. So. All right. Well, George, we will go ahead and jump right into that Q&A. We've got a few really good questions here. So let's start with this one. What are some different tools we can use to keep track of continuous learning? For example, Eisenhower Matrix Pomodoro and Gulf SCAP, in short, a system that allows us to work daily to learn micro skills that build up toward macro level concepts.
[00:56:17] George Hallenbeck Well, it's so funny, when you hear about micro skills, we actually Stephen Bateman, one of my colleagues, is sitting across from me here and helping run the webinar today. He's working on a project which we try to introduce that we call tiny learning, where basically it's all built through questions. Asking yourself questions is one of the most powerful ways to really broaden your awareness and to help move your learning along and then filling in those questions, obviously with knowledge and facts. Another thing I just recommend is kind of a really dreadfully old fashioned approach. And that's just generally, you know, spending five, 10 minutes a day just reflecting on the day. And the lessons learned carry incredible value. With another version of that, too, is gratitude, journaling to really capture the meaning. And even after a rough day, I had a rough day yesterday. You know, the things that you're appreciative for.
[00:57:12] Emily Stringer Journaling is certainly a lost art, so I can appreciate that tip and I have a feeling many of us on the line can as well, that's a great suggestion. Next, based on the work that you have, based on the work you have done with learning agility, number one, what are the most important things that you have learned and the biggest surprises that you have encountered? And 2, what are the biggest misconceptions that people have and the biggest mistakes that they make in trying to develop learning agility?
[00:57:51] George Hallenbeck Biggest surprise is this, that humility piece against these people, again, they identify as lifelong learners, and so they're always enter into any situation expecting that they don't have all the answers and are just very almost grateful in some ways for the mistakes that they make because they know it makes them a better person and also the way that it crosses boundaries between their professional and their personal lives. And again, you see that, like I said, with people like Nelson Mandela or Bono or people like that who just kind of live their life in a certain way. Biggest mistakes that people make. That's a good question. Well, again, I think there's patience, I mean, when you have an experience, you have to really, it's not a matter of checking the box and moving on, you have to be able to let it really wash over you and you almost have to have a patience to kind of go through the discomfort and the ambiguity of the experience, knowing having faith to come out the other end of it being wiser. So people who try to kind of force a rush. The process, I think, is where they're going to encounter some false starts.
[00:59:08] Emily Stringer That's great, great feedback as well. All right, we've got a couple more here, so we'll make time for two more if everyone can hang around for a minute. This is closely related to my interpretation of Personal Knowledge Management, a.k.a. PKM. Have you seen linkages in the literature between learning agility and knowledge management?
[00:59:34] George Hallenbeck You know, I won't go out there and say I've seen like, oh, yes, there's this specific link, like one that we see a lot. And again, there are definitely overlaps like with a growth mindset. That's where we definitely see their kind of cousin concepts and a lot of ways. But in terms of personal knowledge, management and those constructs, I would just say for me personally, that's not something that I've dealt delved deeply into, but I'm open to any offline dialog that people want to have with me as well to where we could maybe I've got a little bit learning of my own to do with regard to that particular area of learning. So.
[01:00:11] Emily Stringer Great. I think that is very helpful. So the next one, how will my next client know that I possess the agile skill set? What is the best way to express that?
[01:00:24] George Hallenbeck Again, I'll go back to the power of questions again, people who are learning natural or natural questions or thinking it's not questions for questions sake, and it's not 20 questions until I'm blue in the face. It's really just more having that natural curiosity and wanting to understand on a deep level. And so it's asking those powerful questions that not only perhaps deepen your insight, but the clients as well, and then showing that ability to adapt fast when they give you feedback, when you're seeing something that is either particularly working or not working, making those changes on the fly. Of course, keeping your client in the loop. But, you know, it's that constant kind of hopping and skipping your way through the problem that we see that's indicative of the style that the natural people have.
[01:01:13] Emily Stringer Great, and we've got one more piggyback on that, what are the most important questions you are exploring and the most important things you are trying to learn more about learning agility now and in the next year.
[01:01:27] George Hallenbeck Well, for me, it's always been where it starts and I've seen people at twenty five who possess all of the qualities kind of in their fullest sense, they are learning agile. I've seen people who know well into their years who have that. And I always kind of get that question of where it starts, particularly in terms of perhaps formative experiences one has had during their youth. Again, either hardships they've experienced or just the way that they were parented or taught or things like that. And those questions have been kind of they haven't been definitively answered. So that's where I've always kind of where it's inception point is. It is always of curiosity to me, and I haven't found those answers yet. So.
[01:02:13] Emily Stringer All right, excellent.
[01:02:15] George Hallenbeck Well, they certainly put up with that figure that interspersed. OK, here we go. So if you've ever been to Sweden somewhere in Stockholm, I don't know where the Museum of Failure is. It is a real place. And this guy who is in corporate innovation got fed up with seeing the same mistakes made over and over and over and said, you know what, I'm going to show everybody I'm going to capture the worst failures out there, particularly in terms of product innovation. We'll put them all in one place so people can learn from the mistakes that others made. And if you look at this picture taken from the street outside the museum, there's some letters in white there that are kind of in the center. And to me, that's kind of where the real pearl of wisdom is. So let's zoom in on that. And it says there, and I think it captures it while learning is the only way to turn failure into success. And so if that can be a takeaway for you from today, hopefully that's good knowledge to take with you. And again, I want to thank everybody, several people who've stayed over time. Really thank you for your time, attention, and great questions. A couple of them have really got me thinking at the moment. And thank you so much.
[01:03:29] Emily Stringer Great, George. We really appreciate you joining us as well. And for the informative presentation, I think we can all take something away from what our next steps are and where we go from here in developing our own individual agile skill sets. All right, thanks everybody on the line.