Edward D. Hess, author of “Learn or Die,” is interviewed by Anita Bruzzese about how individuals and organizations can change their attitudes and practices to embrace more critical and innovative thinking. He discusses a roadmap into how companies can use science to build leading-edge learning organizations.
AB: You note in the book that becoming a learner – whether it’s as an individual or an organization – is much more complicated than just learning to think better and make better decisions. Can you explain?
EH: Many people focus on learning just from a “thinking” viewpoint. The science of learning clearly shows that learning is both a cognitive and an emotional process. Our emotions are intertwined in every part of how we think.
For example, positive emotions broaden our thinking while negative emotions narrow our thinking. Being in a positive mood or feeling psychology safe in the learning environment increases the likelihood of learning. Business cultures of fear generally inhibit learning.
AB: There’s been a lot of criticism that some employers will only hire those who exactly fit a job description and don’t hire for potential. Can you address how employers can hire those who, as you say, “love to learn” and the benefit of doing such a thing?
EH: There are two basic business models for growing a business organically – operational excellence and innovation. Both require learning. So, hiring people who have a predisposition to learning would seem like a good idea. Some questions to ask during an interview include:
What are you curious about?
What Internet sites do you like to visit? Why?
How do you feel about mistakes?
What do you want to learn in this job?
What was the biggest mistake you ever made? What did you learn?
AB: Let’s talk about current workers for a moment. What is the benefit of turning those with a “fixed learning mindset” into those with a “growth mindset”? And how difficult is that to do?
EH: What inhibits many is that they don’t really know how (read more here)