Over Two-Dozen Ideas for Continuous Learning

Continuous learning (aka Lifelong Learning) has been touted as a management must before the dawn of quality improvement programs.  Why has this remained key to business success when other management concepts have come and gone?  It is important to continue to grow to keep up with changes and motivate people.  Whether the changes are economical, environmental, societal, or technical - to remain successful leaders must keep up with what is going on, not just in their industry but across many areas.

Knowledge is power? No. Knowledge on its own is nothing, 
but the application of useful knowledge, now that is powerful.” -  Rob Liano

So how do you make continuous learning happen in a company or as an individual?  There are multiple method to incorporate the continuous learning concept.  These can include some or all of the below methods for increasing knowledge.  

  1. Ask questions or for help on a new or difficult task
  2. Observe how others do tasks to experience new ideas or learn different ways to do things
  3. Watch videos/DVDs on relevant subjects
  4. Listen to professional podcasts
  5. Subscribe to relevant blogs or e-newsletters
  6. Get feedback from others and work towards improving as needed
  7. Join a professional association/society and go to some of the meetings for networking
  8. Work with or as a coach or mentor - learning experiences are gained on both sides 
  9. Develop a skills matrix, create a goal plan, and track progress
  10. Read books or skill-specific magazines/journals
  11. Find relevant on-line articles, case studies, research, or white papers
  12. Complete workbook exercises, or team-building activities, or computer-based/on-line quizzes
  13. Hold leadership reading clubs or business book discussion groups
  14. Look for on-the-job training (OJT) opportunities
  15. Go to internal training classes and/or external workshops
  16. Participate in or lead seminars or webinars  - learn by sharing time with others
  17. Take part in Continuing Education Unit (CEU) courses
  18. Get a higher degree in your field or another degree in a different or related field
  19. Enroll in a certification program that increases skill-levels
  20. Benchmark/visit other companies or department within your organization
  21. Knowledge share with others via virtual meetings or a computerized database
  22. Volunteer for projects or teams that allow stretching current skills or learning new ones
  23. Check out leadership and educational programs on public television (PBS)
  24. Attend or facilitate presentations, face-to-face meetings, and Lunch N Learns - learn in a short time with others
  25. Plan quarterly, biannual or annual strategic meetings or team-building events
  26. Check into conferences, trade shows or product showcases
Continuous learning not only benefits leaders and other individuals by making them more knowledgeable, it benefits companies as well by providing better equipped and flexible employees.  Remember for one to truly learn something, an opportunity to apply and use the gained knowledge is also necessary.  So be sure that the new skills can be practiced on-the-job,  Knowledge is information, however wisdom/expertise is only gained in the application of knowledge.

See also The Business Journal article 5 Steps to Developing a Continuous-Learning Culture.

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