From knowledge to learning


Reaching the end of a job interview, the human resources director asks a young engineer fresh out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “And what starting salary are you looking for?”

The engineer replies, “In the region of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package.”

Interviewer: “And why are you asking for such a high starting salary?”

The engineer says: “Well, I graduated from the top university, and I have the knowledge you may need and can contribute greatly to your company.”

The interviewer inquires, “Well, what would you say to a package of five weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50 percent of salary, and a company car leased every two years, say, a red Ferrari?”

The engineer sits up straight and says, “Wow! Are you kidding?”

The interviewer replies, “Yeah, but you started it.”

There was a time when competitive advantage belonged to people who had the most amount of knowledge. You graduate from a top-notch university with academic honors; you have an MBA degree, a Ph.D. certainly helps. Your vast amount of knowledge, experience, and your arsenal of information you possess have provided you the edge over others.

I remember this. Time was when business organizations would get the services of learned experts who would provide them with political, economic and market briefings. Business leaders needed to know these crucial bits of information help them make decisions for their companies. And the knowledgeable people during this period rule. They rock!

I noticed a radical change has taken place. I have been invited as the keynote speaker to many distributors and dealer’s convention. The program format has changed over the years, and many traditional parts of the convention that was a standard-issue many years ago are no longer there.

First to go are political briefings. Economic briefings are still there, but it seems like they are on a decrease. Market briefings are still very common in business and industry conferences. Raffle prizes will ALWAYS be there, and I do not think it will ever go away. It seems that the once “knowledgeable” experts are steadily in decline. Something indeed is happening these days.

I recently completed the speaking circuit in the Middle Eastern countries and in one particular location the local news interviewed me with a question: “So where do you see business five or 10 years from now and where do you see yourself five or 10 years from now?” My reply was straight forward. I said it would be incredulous for any person in the business to project that far ahead considering the speed of accelerated change brought about by technology. But what I see myself perhaps five or 10 years from now is that I will have even to work harder and to learn faster to stay relevant and fight obsolescence.

The edge today no longer goes to those who know the most but to those who learn the most. It certainly is desirable that the person does not only learn the most, but the competitive skill is required for the person to learn the fastest.

The term coined by the guru of management Peter Drucker “The Knowledge Worker” seems to have evolved and led to the need of “The Learning Worker.” Books and published industry articles continue to harp on the importance of becoming a “life-long learner.” Even the rock star CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella, has said, “Ultimately, the ‘learn-it-all’ will always do better than the ‘know-it-all.’”

Leaders surely need to accelerate learning at work. Business organizations need to be serious with the content and course curriculum of their “Learning Academy.” HR people should be conscious and selective with their choice of consultants, speakers and trainers. Social media gurus, articulate speakers theorists and “self-proclaimed experts” would do a lot more harm to their organizations. It is always best to consider practitioners and industry experts to provide the up-to-date knowledge and information needed because these practitioners themselves are fast learners. They are not the typical theorists that rely on cliches and motherhood statements to do their job. The ascension of the “Learning Economy” makes adaptivity and fast learning so vital today that we can no longer consider ourselves as “knowledge workers;” we must also be learning workers.

And as I close, allow me to revert back to the young applicant in our story. Fresh graduates, even those who have earned academic distinctions, should not have unrealistic expectations on the starting salary and benefits they will be receiving. The moment one gets onboard, nobody cares about their transcript of records. The qualities companies are looking for would be: Fast learning curve, ability to work with others, communication skills, problem-solving skills and adaptability to change.

So once you get the job, start learning and learn fast.

(Mark your calendars on Oct. 2, 2019 for another conference called Power Up: World of CX! It will be happening at the Samsung Hall, SM Aura, BGC. This whole-day event will feature world-renowned speaker and industry experts to talk about the World of Customer Experience in the era of digital technology and artificial intelligence. For further inquiries or advanced reservations, contact CJ at +63917-629-9401 or April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at www.powerup.ph)



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