Josh Bradley in a comment under one of my older posts made me realize an interesting thing. Let me do the weirdest thing ever and quote myself a few times.
“In general, people don’t care if you want to (and can) teach them something. They don’t want to learn.”
Pawel Brodzinski, 2010
“People are lazy. They don’t learn because it’s easier to leave things as they are.”
Pawel Brodzinski, 2010
“Theory X tells us that people are lazy and we need to supervise them otherwise they’d do nothing. If you ask me, that’s total bullshit.”
Pawel Brodzinski, 2013
Now I feel so much better – someone has just quoted me. Wait, wasn’t it auto-quotation? Oh well…
The point is that three years later I seem to have completely opposite point of view. I used to think that people are inherently lazy and now I consider that absurd. Embarrassing, isn’t it?
Let me start with defending my younger self. On one level lazy, not willing to learn attitude is as ubiquitous as it was. I still look at the vast majority of people and see the same dysfunction. People would complain how their organizations don’t support their intrinsic urge to learn. At the same time they’d idly sit looing as learning opportunities as they pass by making a swooshing sound.
The symptoms haven’t changed.
What has changed is how much of a cause I ascribe to the people.
I’m not a systems thinking junkie. I do consider people co-creators of the system they operate in. At the same time though they start with a given situation and can’t change it freely, thus the system constrains them on many accounts.
How does it translate to laziness and reluctance to learn? Well, the questions we should ask are how the organization supports learning and what the rewards (or punishments) are when one decides to invest their time to self-development.
There are (many) companies which don’t support personal development of their employees. This makes the game whole more challenging. At the same time I’m yet to see an organization where there is virtually no opportunities to learn.
In fact, I think these two perspectives are inseparably connected. An organization that doesn’t support learning would discourage people with an urge to learn to stay there in a longer run. What’s more people who rarely give a damn about learning would thrive there sustaining the existing culture. Obviously, the opposite is true as well.
As Jim Benson said “people build systems build people.” Both of them have to be in place to see continuous learning culture flourish.