Learning is critical, but very few are learning

It appears that for many adults, learning is not high on the personal agenda in spite of all the evidence that unlearning & learning is critical to success. I see this in top business-schools where a significant portion of the class remains mostly disinterested, worried only about meeting attendance norms and obtaining good grades. The situation only gets worse in corporate training which are treated by some as a welcome break from work, if at all they show up for the sessions. Even when we consider self-initiated programs / online courses, the rate of completion is quite low (single digit % on an average).

When I ask managers how much time they invest on learning new things (not connected to their current daily activities), more than two-thirds do not spend even an hour a week on building new capabilities. Where is the problem?

Is it inadequate awareness about the importance of learning (or the risks of not learning)? I would be surprised, if this were the case, given all the visible changes in industries / technology around us. Forget career growth, even maintaining status quo would not be possible without new capabilities.

Is it that our learning systems (content, delivery models) are insufficient and do not meet organisation / individual needs? This could possibly true for many; the education industry has been slow to change, particularly in the formal sector. However, there are many other alternative avenues available today, but this does require some proactive effort in discovery and customisation.

Do we have a resource problem – not enough money and time available to invest? Money, as such, is not a problem because organisations spend money on so many “human resource” interventions that are less critical/valuable than learning; the emphasis on learning needs to come right from the top. Time is, probably, a major issue amongst Indian organisations. Most managers are (or claim to be) overworked and just cannot seem to find the time to develop for the future, when delivery of the present remains a challenge.

What do you think is the biggest problem, and how can we address this situation? I would love to hear your suggestions and ideas.

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