July 1, 2000
John Interviewed on Wisdom Radio
John is scheduled to be interviewed by New Dimensions host Michael Toms for the Wisdom Network radio show “Spirit of the Times” on Monday, July 3 from 4 to 6 PM PDT. The interview is scheduled to be live and can be heard via the Internet, satellite and normal broadcast frequencies in certain markets where Wisdom’s programs are aired.
eCHOICE Guest Editorial by Anita Roddick
Anita Roddick, founder and co-chair of The Body Shop International, shares her experience of being in the midst of the WTO Seattle riots some months back in this month’s issue of eCHOICE: The E-Newsletter for the Introspective Leader which John also publishes. ECHOICE costs only $24 for a one-year subscription or $43 for two years, or only less than $1.80 per month. Visa and MC bank cards can be used to purchase subscriptions. See below for details.
True Learning and Real Change
by John Renesch
2000 © John E, Renesch
How does true learning happen? How do people who already know a lot – who are educated, experienced, intelligent, and well-respected by their peers for what they know – become like innocent children in order to see with new eyes, as if for the first time. A friend defines this ability to see things newly as genuine humility, a slightly different definition than most people would give the word.
Real learning comes from the intentionality – having the willingness and courage to truly learn.
Intentionality means holding that intention to achieve new learning experiences, much like my friend’s idea about genuine humility; willingness allows for easier detaching from cherished ideas or prior knowledge so one can truly see things newly; and courage provides the emotional muscle to let go of self-images or personas, positions that might be preventing new thought, at the risk of looking foolish, or uninformed, or even stupid.
Learning cultures can be created in organizations by legitimizing open-mindedness, by creating a work environment where experimentation is encouraged, where failure is seen as being part of success, not a black mark to be avoided at all costs. Learning cultures require the blessing of corporate leadership – not only in words but in actions and practice as well. Once members of a work community realize that a learning culture is truly wanted and sanctioned by everyone in charge, that it isn’t simply another “flavor of the month” management whim that will be passe in a few months when things return to business as usual, they will respond as the inquisitive human beings they are. They are more likely to drop the know-it-all persona they adapted in school once they can accept that this is really going to be the new culture for the company.
A learning culture invites dissidence – not merely for the sake of it, but for the possible new thought it engenders. An innovative and creative corporate culture in today’s highly-competitive global economy requires radical thought, dissident scenarios, and lots of rebels and revolutionaries. Straight talk from those who have the courage to be frank and truthful about the current culture will begin to occur when a learning climate has been established.
Only marginal learning, incremental improvements and small steps toward new innovative solutions will result when the culture is rigid, locked in past accomplishments, or arthritically stiff from “the way we’ve always done things around here.”
Leaders continuously report that their biggest advances in new thinking usually come from participating in activities outside their normal circle, outside of the “system” with which they are most familiar. They report seeing newly, like with new eyes, when they are stimulated by people who have nothing to do with their company or, in many cases, aren’t even involved in their industry. Their new learnings are not the result of trying to think differently – manipulating their intellects – but allowing something new to come to their attention without pre-conceived ideas about who will be involved, how it will happen or when these new ideas will arrive. In other words, they have the intention without a plan.
It’s hard to imagine any corporate culture where there isn’t some significant tendency to avoid “rocking the boat.” Just as it is difficult to imagine a company where there aren’t any ambitious and political individuals who avoid any form of controversy and would never consider being “whistle blowers” and risking advancement in the corporate ranks. However, despite these people and other pressures to conform, companies that are going to distinguish themselves by innovative practices and creating maximum value of their knowledge will sorely need certified rebels. These rebels will need to be endorsed by the established culture, openly and unabashedly if the remainder of the employees, consultants, vendors and even stockholders are to recognize that rebellious thinking is truly wanted and needed by the company.
To the existing culture, it may look like inviting all this dissidence, all this radical thinking, will cause irreparable harm to the company. It may look like rocking the boat may capsize it. That’s what appeared to be going on with all the reinvention activity of the past few years. But some leaders saw that capsizing was just what the corporate boat needed, turning it upside down, rolling it over so its underbelly could be visible to everyone. A shake-up like this is just what a stogy, complacent, inflexible dinosaur needs every few years. Companies that wallow in their complacency are indeed modern dinosaurs of sorts and their survival depends on how well they can learn in today’s information-dominant economy.
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Foreword by Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop.
Rave reviews by Warren Bennis, Neale Donald Walsch, Peter Russell, Sally Helgesen, Michael Ray and others…..
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eCHOICE: The E-Newsletter for the Introspective Leader
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About John Renesch
Aha! is prepared monthly by John E. Renesch, a San Francisco writer, futurist, and business philosopher. His new book – Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing – is just out. You can preview it at his Web site: www.Renesch.com/TheBetterFuture. To order the book or to contact John call TOLL FREE 877-2-RENESCH (see details above).