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Selling the Best Hour of the Day to Yourself

February 18, 2012

Selling the Best Hour of the Day to Yourself
by Andy Boynton and Bill Fischer

Here’s an idea to use your time in clever ways to advance your learning and effectiveness.

One of the biggest challenges ahead for top executives is to create learning organizations in which everyone knows more. Contrary to widespread belief and practice, this is not primarily about technology—for example, crafting better web pages or databases. Simply put, the way to become a learning organization is to make sure people are, well, learning—constantly. And the way to do that is to encourage everyone to become what Warren Buffet’s insightful partner, Charlie Munger, describes as “learning machines.” As he explains, these are people who “go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up.”

We believe that such an emphasis on the individual, rather than on technical processes, is the key to forging true learning organizations. The fundamental task is to create a culture in which learning is a well-understood expectation—something done by individuals, starting with executives, every single day.

We don’t need to dwell on the stakes here: acquiring new knowledge and superior ideas are essential for organizations to innovate and find an edge in today’s hyper-competitive markets. By now few senior managers would argue otherwise, and some will, in fact, turn at least part of their focus to the individual. For example, they’ll tinker with training budgets or find some extra time for attending seminars. These are all well and good, but such efforts tend to be intermittent at best. Learning with the goal of innovation is different. It’s a habit—one that calls for conscious strategies every manager can deploy.

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