One trait of a learning organization is having awareness. More than just having it, a learning organization needs to demonstrate A.W.A.R.E.N.E.S.S- (an acronym for focusing on A specific task/goal, Wisdom, Abilities, Response-ability, Education, Network, Experiences, Skills, and Scalable.)
The “W” in AWARENESS is Wisdom. By Wisdom I am referring to Wisdom Stewardship. Wisdom Stewardship is the term I use for the surrounding, broadening, learning, capturing, collecting, and sharing of the best ideas and solutions within a learning organization.
Learning Organizations that practice the Wisdom Stewardship associated with AWARENESS surround themselves with the best knowledge and the best talent.
The “best knowledge” simply means that the learning organization seeks the best information, data, ideas, practices, methods, strategies, research, etc., from the best sources. Learning organizations that practice Wisdom Stewardship have a drive to obtain the “best knowledge” they can get their hands on, from the best sources, and use it to increase organizational effectiveness.
The “best talent” means that individuals in the learning organization are constantly using their individual and overlapping Personal Learning Networks to network and connect with the very best sources of “best knowledge.” It is important to note, that the “best talent” may be sitting at the table or maybe across the country depending on what is needed. Learning organizations that practice Wisdom Stewardship must always view each other as starting point for “best knowledge” and “best talent”, but be humble enough to extend out into their networks and scale up their membership as needed.
In other words, learning organizations that have AWARENESS combine the “best knowledge” and the “best talent” to create wisdom which they then become stewards of.
While the primary starting point for pursuing “best knowledge” and “best talent” will always be the members of the learning organization sitting together, having AWARENESS requires the individuals use their Personal Learning Networks to broaden their scope and their reach to obtain “best knowledge” and “best talent.”
Technology based collaborative networks (Twitter, Facebook, Ning, etc.) allows learning organizations to increase their “surface area” of reach and access to knowledge and talent. Using technology to increase “surface area”, learning organizations are demonstrating good stewardship of wisdom, regardless of geographic location or formal connection to the enterprise.
Broadening insists that teams and individuals use their technology based Personal Learning Networks, and their any other network, to seek out diversity of perspective. Teams should have multi-disciplined networks filled with people from a many disciplines in, and I would suggest, even out of the enterprise. Teams should seek the greatest cognitive diversity (to a point) that is possible. Broadening from themselves to a diverse team of “useful outsiders” whose wisdom can be called upon and leveraged by the team.
As Michael Fullan would say, “Learning is the work.” Learning organizations demonstrate Wisdom Stewardship when they learn together, especially when they learn in context together. Learning organizations that practice AWARENESS should make every attempt to learn with each other before, during, and after the work and in context as much as possible. Learning organizations that use Wisdom Stewardship develop capacity of individuals as well of teams. Growing in skills, in knowledge, in methodology, experience, and ability, together, is being a good steward of personal, team, and organizational wisdom.
Wisdom Stewardship also requires that wisdom, those best ideas, best practices, innovations, etc., be captured. There are numerous technology platforms that can be used to capture the wisdom of the team and teams can follow their own preferences, but whichever technologies teams choose to use to capture their wisdom, the best choices will be those that are easy to use, easy to access, and easy to share. Being a good steward of wisdom means that there must be a way to go back, to re-trace your learning journey, to remember what has been learned or what has been done. Wisdom Stewardship asks the learning organization to gather, collect, save, archive, and memorialize their wisdom for future use.
The final key to Wisdom Stewardship is sharing out the wisdom with others. Learning organizations who practice Wisdom Stewardship are very concerned with K.W.O.K, or Knowing What Others Know. This is similar to the Japanese concept of “Yokoten.” The heart of yokoten is that an idea, or wisdom, must be shared. The value comes in two forms- the idea and the sharing.
Learning organizations must overcome the hoarding culture and develop a culture of yokoten, which insists that for the good of the organization, the enterprise, the team, and the individual, great ideas, solutions, and wisdom must be shared with others.
Wisdom Stewardship surrounds, broadens, learns, captures, and shares the developed wisdom of the team to benefit of the organization. It is a key part of building a learning organization that has AWARENESS.