Learning is still assumed to be an individual process (best done away from the workplace) rather than a collective process (best done in the workplace). While open source innovation has pushed the boundaries around learning from customers, learning that resides in peer networks for example remains a source of learning that few organisations truly understand or leverage. Even management meetings that have the potential of being powerful learning events are missed. Few organisations recognise the power of the ‘unplanned conversation’ in innovating its way to a better more balanced future.

As organisations continue to flatten and leaders have 15-20 people reporting to them as the norm, it is not practical for the leader to give each one of the direct reports top down coaching regularly, individuals must drive their own development by using peers to gathered feedback in areas to improve and coach each other on how they will develop.  Recently a well facilitated Group Reverse Mentoring program (not labelled as that) generated powerful actionable learning for both the leaders and the reverse mentors in the room – more powerful than the individual reverse mentoring pairs that the organisation had previously tried. Additionally because such processes involve more than 2 people, it also inherently promotes greater diversity of ideas, perspectives and understanding.  The richness of the experience multiplies as each group participant brings personal experiences into the conversation. Organisations that find new more meaningful ways for their employees to connect are more likely to realise greater productivity and innovation, enhanced career growth and overall improvement in employee performance and engagement.

Truth is no longer owned by the seasoned leader at the top, it is owned by everyone. Technology has enabled learning and development opportunities to be democratised and not just for the select few talented high potentials. Now development professionals must recognise this change and rethink the models on which their practices have been long based.

Written by Meena Thuraisingham
Director and Principal, Talent Invest

Meena Thuraisingham is a consultant, author, executive coach and thought leader in the area of People and Culture. An organisational psychologist by training, she founded TalentInvest, a niche consulting practice, advising global clients in the UK, Asia and Australia in Capability and Culture. Meena is also a regular speaker internationally on leadership effectiveness and culture change.

Her published books are The Secret Life of Decisions, Careers Unplugged and Derailed!. Get Your Copy Today