Unseen Hippos - The Gap Between Learning and Doing

by The Architect on Mar 6, 2018

A quick, funny video from Ernesto Sirolli on his experience in working with European aid in Zambia.

He wondered why the Zambians had never thought to grow their own tomatoes to solve their hunger problems.

But the Europeans hadn’t asked. They had been trained for this, so they thought, thousands of miles away from Zambia. They planted the tomatoes. The consequences came stomping in…

One day there, in the world, had taught Ernesto more than all of his training.

Learning how Leadership works and actually doing Leadership are very different things.

The training we have often feels like it lives in its own world separate from the real world. There's a gap between what we are being taught and our ability to turn it into real change in our Leadership skills.

That gap means Leaders will never see the hippos.

Why is there such a gap in the first place?

  • Some organisations find it hard to measure the practical effects of Leadership Development. Instead, they make their leaders jump through hoops and then count the hoops. The results look good, but mean nothing in the long-term.
  • Theoretical Leadership tools are often easier to hand out as a one-size-fits-all for ANY leader to learn in any area. But if the learning isn't personalised to the Leaders and their own experiences, they'll never see how to transfer the theory into action.
  • Modern Leadership Development is built on courses, lectures, workshops, summits; all things that require lengthy separation from the working environment for the learning to take place.

Your development programme has to be focussed on 'doing', not on 'knowing'.

It has to be designed expressly to stimulate action that directly benefits the performance of the organisation, and to encourage leaders to reflect on and learn from their own and others‘ experiences.

Leadership development has to be derived directly from the organisation‘s strategy and revolve around real issues. The ideal approach is developing-while-doing.

That's what we've found works in our 10 years, anyway. Our brains aren't build to handle hours of intense learning. It needs to be personal, in small doses and applied to the real world.

Real-time development of your leaders. Just in time.

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