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  • Innovation requires an inquisitive mind: learning is very much an outside-inside process.

The hard truth is that if you want to take your organisation into the future with innovations you’ve got to have a learning organisation:

On the basis of a unique data set covering 2000 Danish private firms it is demonstrated that firms combining several of the organisational traits of the learning organisation are much more prone to introduce new products than the others.” (Peter Nielsen and Bengt-Åke Lundvall, Aalborg University).

One of the critical ingredients for creating a learning organisation is ensuring you’ve got a feedback culture.  Let’s face it, how do you learn without asking for feedback?

Based on our experience we’ve compiled 5 questions you need to ask yourself to evaluate if you’ve got a feedback culture:

1.  Has your leadership identified and communicated the most important competencies needed for the future?

ice hockeyYes, it’s important to have vision.  Steve Jobs, ex-CEO, of arguably the most innovative company of this decade, Apple Computer, has been quoted saying: “I skate to where the puck is going to be”.  Having vision is knowing where that puck is going to be.  But getting to the puck requires identifying those competencies you need in your organisation to get there.  Identify your most important competencies and then monitor how good you are by getting feedback on them.

2. Does Your Leadership Regularly Ask for Feedback on strategy, obstacles or ways to accelerate progress?

Do your most senior leaders continually ask for feedback?  “Walk the talk” and demonstrate that without feedback you don’t learn.  And this starts at the highest level (McKinsey). Leaders who don’t ask for feedback regularly, are really saying to their employees “You don’t need to be open to learning to get to my position.” It also works the other way around: people perceive you as more competent when you ask for their feedback and opinion. Gallup and Bersin by Deloitte already explained to leadership that making employees’ opinions count, actually drives their engagement. That’s what we call a win-win!

3. Do you have an easy tool for getting frequent feedback, hence, ask open questions that matter most? 

The days of just-a-survey-and-a-dashboard are over we believe.  In our mobile device lifestyle we handle 65% of our emails on our mobile device.  That means that your request for feedback, ideas, solutions, have to be handled on any device, safe, and at the employee’s most convenient time. Make sure your employees can take their time to respond: slowing them down, will crack your puzzle faster.

Evidence also shows that firms seldom learn and innovate alone.  Innovation requires open cooperation and an inquisitive mind (read for example the book “A More Beautiful Question” from Warren Berger).  Learning is very much an outside-inside process.

4. Do you embed feedback into your business processes and then enable growth in an easy way?

We’re in the learning economy now.  That means that globalisation, de-regulation and information technology has created an environment with more intense competition, rapid transformation and change. A VUCA world. To compete in such an economy, the ability to identify the competencies you need, and attain them (whether by yourself or by adding others to your team) is crucial to the performance of organiSations.  Make continuous feedback and dialogue a habit, instead of an incident. Structure casual collision to happen.

5. Do you have a way to enable the sharing of knowledge and insights to improve collaboration?

water pic

Organizations can learn only as fast as the slowest link learns. Change is blocked unless an organisation can enable knowledge to be shared. In feedback and learning organisations, knowledge flows freely, and talent becomes visible and what we call “liquid”.  “The best performing teams have talent that comes together in a complementary way. Teams must tap the potential for many minds to be more intelligent than one mind, the collective intelligence. If teams learn, they become a microcosm for learning throughout the organisation” (The Fifth Discpline, Peter M. Senge, MIT), or superorganism as others call it. We believe this can only be achieved when social collaboration mechanisms are in place, an ecosystem for people to accelerate their growth, together.

Our first step, together with you, can be to evaluate your feedback culture in your organisation by engaging your employees in a series of pulse dialogues. Collect their feedback and thoughts, and make them rethink again, about matters such as “What’s the main obstacle in the organisation we could take away together, to open up to feedback and why do you think so?” or “What’s your best example of compliments in our organisation that made a difference for your motivation?”, etc, etc. This will clarify how, when and in what context to introduce feedback and recognition, and to identify what work needs to be done. Feedback is worth a lot, yet very complex, no matter what others say.  Together, we will work out the steps to introduce a sublime feedback culture.

Maurik Dippel, co-founder of CircleLytics.

+31 (0)611 78 80 47

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