xe Whom to learn from? - Johan Schlasberg, strategy advisor
Johan Schlasberg 

Whom to learn from?

The starting point is that it is smart to learn from others, but from whom or how? Moreover it is far from certain that everyone wants to learn new things and approaches. To learn, to teach others and to teach an organisation, that is to say, change, requires different approaches and methods.

Organisational fatigue

Change in both individuals and organizations has a non-monetary cost. Several studies show that one can become somatically ill from overly many changes - even those that are positive - that occur within too short a time. These changes can be ranked and the effects added. People have different predispositions to accept change and stress.

Organisations are both a number of individuals and something elusive larger with their own and frequently, unwritten codes and rules. An organisation can become exhausted by too much learning/change.

To learn from the successful

There is a tendency to want to learn from the successes of recent years - Apple / Google / Amazon - or by successful people. This is very understandable but probably only works if you are aware of the conditions and reality of your organization.

You can also learn from other people's mistakes, but be aware that you make your own mistakes based on your Mental maps and history. The most interesting thing is the mistakes made by smart people. Research shows a weak link between intelligence and judgment.

To learn from academic research

It is an appealing idea or concept that the systematic and supposedly rational in social science research can make significant contributions to how one should or can organise a business.

In August 2019, I started a Blog about the mixed value of Business Administration research to investigate and comment on whether that research is a good source of knowledge for management in companies and other organisations. Do they read it?

To learn from management and strategy consultants

In the public sector, there is widespread distrust of business consultants and what is often called New Public Management. It is almost obvious that you cannot copy "business solutions" to the public sector, but why is this done? One answer is probably that the purchasing competence of politicians and senior public officials is too low. In Sweden, the new Karolinska Hospital is a well documented and dissuasive example. There are many others.

The major management consultants like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, PwC, and Accenture conduct their own research, although as part of their image-building and marketing. However, it is usually written in a language more accessible to practitioners and has a greater sense of real-world questions.

Create a "smart" inspiration map

There is a need for some method to increase the chance of finding knowledge and experience that you (the organisation) can benefit from.

One idea is that you have an Inspiration Map. Note a number of areas that are important to improve. They can, for example, be digital transformation, business intelligence, equality, leadership, innovation, environmental issues, service, use of capital, and more. Create a "smart" map with names of companies, people, and sites that you think can teach you something in relevant sub-areas.

As I see it, the map should also contain sources outside of your area of expertise, and things of a different nature. Read more about culture, art, and listen to some TED talks or take a look at the free databases and sources in BiBB's Libraryflag.

Match the Inspiration Map with your situation, and reflect on how many new ideas and change your business may need and can digest.