Archive for the ‘Learning Agility’ Category


Why measure Learning Agility?

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

 

Tape Measure

Most people are good at doing things they’ve done in the past and coming up with solutions they know from experience work well. Fewer are adept at handling new and unique challenges where there are no obvious answers. Yet, this is precisely what is demanded of leaders today.

A dynamic and complex business environment requires people to be resourceful and adaptable, to think and act in new ways as situations change. It takes people out of their comfort zone and pushes them beyond their usual ways of doing things.

The extent to which people enjoy these challenges varies significantly. Some prefer to avoid them, holding on to trusted skills, expertise and patterns of behaviour, whilst others actively seek them out in order to satisfy their natural curiosity and enjoyment of doing new things.

Agile learners demonstrate the ability and willingness to learn from experience and use those lessons to succeed in new and different situations. They look for many, diverse experiences and this runs counter to sticking with any one discipline for long periods.

On this basis, not every job is suited to agile learners. Some jobs require deep expertise where being highly learning agile could actually be a disadvantage. Organisations can better manage their talent when they measure learning agility and carefully match the right people to the right jobs, career paths and developmental experiences.

 

how can learning agility be measured?

Learning agility is a multi-dimensional concept. Based on research over three decades, Korn Ferry’s model is made up of five factors – Self-Awareness, Mental Agility, People Agility, Change Agility and Results Agility. These are defined as a set of behaviours that are both observable and measurable.

Multi-rater assessment

A straightforward way to measure Learning Agility is through a 360-degree survey. Choices® is proven, easy-to-use online assessment that provides people with meaningful feedback on their overall Learning Agility and each of its five factors.

Choices® is useful as it raises awareness of what Learning Agility actually is among individuals and their raters by reading the behavioural descriptors as they complete the assessment. It is also supported by the FYI for Learning Agility™ book that contains specific actions a person can take to develop Learning Agility.

Self-assessment

A second way to assess Learning Agility is through an online self-assessment called viaEDGE™. To overcome the tendency of individuals to over or under rate themselves, rigorous verification scales are used to determine the accuracy of their scores, providing a confidence index for each completed assessment.

viaEDGE™ is useful when time is at a premium and is effective for assessing larger groups of individuals. It is supported by a development guide called Becoming an Agile Leader: A Guide to Learning from your Experience.

 

what are the benefits of measuring learning agility?

An organisation’s success depends largely on its people, talented individuals who contribute to the achievement of organisational goals. Those who effectively leverage the abilities of their people are focused on understanding and differentiating their talent.

All talent is important, but all talent is not the same. On one hand, there are high-professionals who generally have deep technical expertise and do well in functional roles. On the other are high-potentials, those who prefer broader experiences and responsibilities and are better suited to general management positions.

It’s worth noting that people across both of these groups are critical to an organisation’s future success, yet their contributions are quite different and they need to be nurtured and developed differently.

The key criterion that differentiates talent along the high-professional/high-potential continuum is Learning Agility. Knowing where your people stand on this scale will allow you to make more informed decisions in selection, succession management, career planning and development.

The benefits for individuals are obvious – better alignment between career and personal interests and motivation means greater job satisfaction and greater likelihood of access to personally meaningful development opportunities.

For organisations, measurement of Learning Agility gives that all-important big picture view of the talent pool. Group data with scores across each of the five factors of Learning Agility offers the opportunity to identify candidates who have the right skills for a job now or those who would benefit from specific developmental opportunities.

Importantly, the overall Learning Agility Index for your talent pool provides critical insight into the dominant themes in your organisation’s culture and how agile it is as a whole.

 

Understanding Learning Agility

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

What is Learning Agility?

Learning Agility is defined as “the ability and willingness to learn from experience and use those lessons to succeed in new and different situations”.

People differ significantly in what and how they learn from experience. Some acquire skills and knowledge, readily picking up technical information, whilst others are more adept figuring out how to solve unfamiliar problems and finding new ways of looking at issues.

 

Learning Agility is defined as “the ability and willingness to learn from experience and use those lessons to succeed in new and different situations”.

People differ significantly in what and how they learn from experience. Some acquire skills and knowledge, readily picking up technical information, whilst others are more adept figuring out how to solve unfamiliar problems and finding new ways of looking at issues.

Primarily, learning agility is an indicator of adaptability rather than intelligence. Although intelligence influences the ability to learn from a traditional perspective, learning agility is a different and distinct trait that is not significantly correlated with intelligence.

Agile learners tend to approach new experiences with curiosity and resourcefulness; they respond well to situations that stretch their thinking and current way of doing things. On the other hand, less agile learners prefer what is familiar and to go with proven solutions.

Where did the term Learning Agility come from?

Dr. Michael Lombardo and Dr. Robert Eichinger introduced the term Learning Agility two decades ago as a key indicator of leadership potential, based on extensive research into executive success and derailment carried out at the Center for Creative Leadership[1] and Lominger International.[2]

This work has been carried on by Korn Ferry since 2006 and their findings have echoed by many others who have highlighted the importance of learning from experience. For example, Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas found that successful leaders commonly had critical experiences that changed their thinking.[3]

It should be noted that the origin of Learning Agility as a construct was derived from leadership research, as opposed to educational psychology. However, other streams of research have contributed to the understanding of Learning Agility, including studies of different forms of intelligence.

Dr. Robert Sternberg put forward his theory of “successful intelligence” as the kind of intelligence used to achieve important goals. He emphasises analytical, creative and practical abilities as key components of the ability to succeed in career and life.[4]

Why is Learning Agility important?

As Learning Agility comprises a set of skills that allow us to learn something in one setting and apply it another, it is especially significant in today’s business environment where change, uncertainty and ambiguity are the norm.

As much as we may like to think that things are stable and under our control, the reality is quite different. The vast majority of the problems facing executives and managers lack clarity and have no obvious answers.[5] New technologies, new processes and new business challenges. Nothing stays the same very long.

In addition, jobs themselves become more complex at higher levels in an organisation and it’s here that Learning Agility must move into high gear. Executives need to sort information from a variety of sources and drill down to distill it into simple themes that are understandable for others.

 

[1] McCall, M Lombardo & Morrison, 1988, The Lessons of Experience, The Free Press

[2] Lombardo & Eichinger, 2010, The Leadership Machine 10th Anniversary Edition, Korn Ferry

[3] Bennis & Thomas, 2002, Geeks and Geezers, Harvard Business School Press

[4] Sternberg, 1997, Successful Intelligence: How practical and creative intelligence determine success in life, Plume.

Four ways to advance the representation of women at the top

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

 

  • Today, more women graduate from university than men and yet far fewer make it to senior executive roles in organisations.
  • The percentage of women on ASX 200 boards is 15.4% and of those companies 52% have no women on their boards.[1]
  • Some 78% of women now leave their middle and   upper management positions to start their own business.[2]
women-in-leadership-300x204

A challenge for women

A Harvard Business Review study conducted by Boris Groysberg and Deborah Bell found many leaders see a greater representation of women at the top of organisations is key to diversity and sustainability. At the same time, we have all heard the line that there are simply not enough skilled and experienced women around.

Here lies a challenge – women lag behind men in getting the type of assignments that prepare people for success at the top, such as those with P&L responsibility, heavy strategic demands and high visibility from top management. Understandably, it’s hard to sustain a career long term without the right experiential learning.

Agility is the key

In his article “The Importance of Agility” in Human Resource Executive online, Andrew McIlvaine says that in times of unprecedented change and uncertainty, we need to ensure that leaders have the requisite agility to not only operate in unchartered watersbut to thrive in them.

Agility has been a theme for Lominger International for two decades, after successful executives were found to embrace new and diverse challenges and integrate and draw numerous and varied lessons from them. In other words they are “learning agile”. Here is another opportunity to help women keep pace in development.

Helping women advance their careers

  1. Give women the opportunity to understand and develop their learning agility
    Women (and men!) benefit enormously from knowing where they stand now on learning agility. It is a measurable trait that can be developed. Coaching and self-help resources such Lominger’s Agile Leader series are useful for becoming a more agile leader.
  2. Ensure organisational career paths are identified and open to women
    When an organisation identifies its most critical jobs, any bias against women must be overcome so they are included in succession plans. Career pathways that are visible to themselves and others and appropriate development planning will help them stay the course to realise their potential.
  3. Support women in making successful leadership transitions
    Each step up the corporate ladder brings a new set of requirements in terms of skill, complexity of work and focus of effort. Navigating these changes at each transition is essential for long-term career success. Stephen Drotter’s book “The Performance Pipeline” is a good resource for understanding what it takes.
  4. Give women opportunities to build their professional network
    Women can often be distracted by the variety of roles they play in their lives – partner, mother, daughter, sister, etc. With so many facets to their lives, they may need encouragement to build a network of peers inside and outside the organisation, as well as finding mentors to help guide their path.

 

 


[1] Women in Leadership Report, CEDA, June 2013

[2] National Survey of Women Business Owners, Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry, March 2012