Learning with Creativity

Jan 21, 2021 | Learning, Featured

Overview: The approach to organizational learning will change drastically this year and the main intervention will be of creativity and innovation. Bharat Jain, AVP Sales (Learning Technologies), GCube interviewed Mr. Steven Kowalski, Director, Creative License Consulting based in the U.S. The conversation explored the way forward to organizational learning in 2021, and how the delivery of corporate learning changed during the pandemic. Here is the key takeaway from the session.

  • Agility in learning methodologies help cope up with any kind of adverse situation, for instance, a pandemic.
  • Empower professionals in the L&D teams and shorten the development cycles.
  • Learning data standards must conform to FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, & Re-usable).
  • Creativity in learning must justify real-world feasibility.
  • As a learner, or an organization, proactively push yourself to come out of the comfort zone.

Bharat: Hello friends, thank you for coming in on HCMGuru. Today, we have Mr. Steven Kowalski, and he is one of the senior professional in the industry, and has done PhD in organizational learning from a very renowned University, UCLA based out of California, Los Angeles. He is currently the director at Creative License Consulting, and a leading voice in the global movement for organizational development. As a leader, Steven seeks to catalyze ideas and nourish potential. So, welcome Mr. Steven, thank you for joining in on HCMGuru.

Steven: Great to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

Bharat: Right, Steven, we would like to have a very brief introduction about yourself, though, I have touched a bit, but we would like to hear from you as well. And then we have some interesting questions to put across and share your thoughts and ideas around that.

Steven: Sure, very briefly, I started my career as an artist, and quickly learned that I was really interested in the psychology of creativity more than being an artist, per se. I studied psychology, and then studied learning and education at UCLA, and found that learning, creativity, change, and transformation, all are combined in a fascinating way that helps organizational change and transformation. So, that’s a highlight of the journey I’ve been on, in my career.

Bharat: Interesting, Mr. Steven. So, when we talk about during pandemic, the last year was tough for everyone. So, how was agility in both personal and organizational learning, which helped all of us to navigate through 2020?

Steven: Yeah, this is so important. So, let me talk about the personal side of the equation, first. I think agility helps us take a more proactive approach to life, and to our work. So many of us can fall into the pattern of being in the reactive, and we kind of approach life as if it’s happening to us. Agility really helps us take a more proactive and creative approach. It also helps us move away from a proving orientation. Like, I have to prove myself and you are the object of assessment of my competence, to a learning orientation, where we’re really improving our performance together. So, I think agility helps us in both of those two ways, more proactive, and a learning versus proving orientation. From an organizational perspective, I think the agility frame and the mindset really helps with iteration and experimentation, which is so crucial in today’s business world. We have to work in shorter cycles, we have to work in more fit-for-purpose ways. So, the agile mindset helps us there, and also helps us tie learning directly to the transformation. The change that’s happening is ongoing. And learning has to be embedded into the transformation more directly, and into team processes.

Bharat: Interesting, very good. So, we are talking about the agility and about the performance, please share your thoughts around how important is business integration as part of your learning strategy for an organization?

Steven: Yeah, you know, the world is changing so fast, business is changing so fast. Often times, learning lags the business change. And I think this is one of the things we really need to work on. So, embedding learning more directly into business processes, getting learning out of something that people see as an HR responsibility, empowering folks who are working in the learning field, shortening the development cycles, so that we can bring those learning assets to folks more rapidly and then take a page from the the world of data. There’s a criterion for data standard given by the University of Maastricht, called FAIR. It stands for Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, & Re-usable. And I think we can apply the same standard to all of the learning assets that we create, and that’ll help a lot with co-creation and with shortening development cycles.

Bharat: And when we talk about creativity, always into learning, how to intersect creativity and learning, which becomes an important pillar to organizational development? So, what do you think, how do we intersect creativity and learning?

Steven: Well, creativity is activated at the intersection of purpose, possibility, and constraints. You have to have a purpose to change the status quo. And we have to be able to toggle back and forth between possibilities that our imagination can sort of cook up, and constraints, which are the real-world feasibility aspects of it. Transformation happens in the same intersection. So, creativity and transformation are intimately intertwined. They’re both about changing the status quo. And I think especially when you’re involved in transformation, that’s a strategic transformation, not just an optimization or an efficiency transformation, you’re going to have to aim for innovation. And innovation is going to require risk, is going to require learning, there’s failure, there are mistakes, it’s a journey, right. And so, learning is directly intertwined with both creativity, and with transformation, whether that’s personal transformation, or organizational transformation.

Bharat: Brilliant. So, the last question we have with us is, since you come with a lot of experience in organizational development and learning, what are your tips for your peers, going forward, entering into 2021? What are your tips for your colleagues?

Steven: I would say, my first tip is, take care of yourself. You know, sustainability is really important. It’s an important business concept. It’s an important global climate, world taking care of the world concept, but we’re also stewards of our own lives. And so, my first tip is, take care of yourself and your loved ones. Second one is, proactively push yourself into what I call the bump zone, which is sort of where we stretch beyond our comfort. And, and we can do that because life is happening to us and we’re forced to, but we can also take the reins to proactively push ourselves into the bump zone. So, I would say, in 2021, take some risks, go a little bit further. My company is called Creative License for a reason. We want people to take creative license, play with the rules, bend them, break them, if you need to. And the other one is, take a page from life sciences, and so many other industries that are focused on personalization, and customization. Personalize and customize learning to the users, to the customers, to the clients, whatever word you use in your world, to the learners. All of healthcare is really going into personalized healthcare, and other industries doing the same. We should be doing the same too.

Bharat: On this note, thank you, take care, and keep smiling.

Steven: Thank you.

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