This posting is more about the sort of work I do professionally, which is in the area of organizational learning. You know . . . the stuff we are sometimes told we have to learn for this or that reason, often following some learning objectives we were given and at times without a clear understand for how we can make use of it once it is learned?
I may exaggerate a bit here, but bear with me for a moment.
This is the area that I think about . . . a lot. How can we try to invert learning, if you will, from something we think we need for only this or that work reason or to put out some fire, and reframe it as learning for a higher purpose.
No, I don’t quite mean THAT higher purpose, but rather as something linked to the organization’s mission and vision? Come to think of it, do you know your organization’s mission or vision? If so, is just knowing it enough?
Case in Point . . .
Earlier this week I visited a new supermarket in the neighborhood, one that I did not know was a specialty chain until I looked it up online, but I am getting ahead of myself.
Anyway, I went into this market at 10:30 on a weeknight. It was brightly lit, cool with air conditioning, spotlessly clean, inviting, and filled with employees stocking shelves and helping customers.
Yes, you heard that right . . . there were literally dozens of customers and the many employees were actually HELPING them. Not just pointing or motioning, but actually stopping their work, standing, making eye contact, bringing people to what was requested, smiling, and being professional, polite, and cheerful.
This happened throughout the store.
Being my first time there, and given how some stores do not follow the cookie-cutter mold of store design, I actually spoke with 4 members of the staff about 4 different things I wanted, and was treated in the same way by all of them, across the store, on both levels (Manhattan has its own ways of handling space). Even when I got to the checkout I was greeted with a smile, complimented on my glasses, chatted up about the yogurt I bought (everybody seems to love Greek yogurt), invited to join their loyalty program (that does not force me to carry a silly card with me), and left the store laughing due in part to the friendly banter with the person who left the final impression on me, one of positive energy that capped a great overall customer experience.
Wondering at this, I went home and looked on their website to try to understand what just happened, and it was there that I saw it, the Mission. The company had it on their About Us page. Let me clarify . . . their visually represented Mission was their page.
Lots of organizations have mission statements and vision statements, but what many of them seem to lack is an authentic experience of their employees actually living it or doing it.
What does this all have to do with education, which is how I started this off?
I believe this is what good organizational learning is—it infuses everything it does to support, connect, and engage the work tasks with furthering the mission and vision.
After all, what is the point of professional learning if it does not help to move toward the mission and vision?
Look at your own checkouts; do you see staff who live the mission, just know what the mission is, or just work . . . to get it done? I am not sure about you, but I do not often leave supermarkets with a smile and want