The Power of Fundamentals...
Learning and Development Need a Foundation
Continual learning is vital if you don't want to get overtaken by the competition. Microsoft are now the world's most valuable company. Their CEO Satya Nadella - who is largely responsible for their transformation in recent years - attributes this to moving from a "know it all" culture to a "learn it all" culture.
However, new learning in its many forms needs a solid foundation of fundamentals to take effect. Without a firm base, new approaches, techniques and technologies can struggle to demonstrate their benefit.
How About This for a Record?
If you were a sports coach and your record was ten national championships in twelve years, you would probably have people thinking you were doing something right. Particularly if this was in probably the most competitive league in the world: the NCAA college basketball league in the United States.
That was indeed the record of legendary college basketball coach John Wooden. He coached the UCLA Bruins for twelve years and won the championship ten times (seven of those he won in a row)! One of the keys to his success was his emphasis on a few fundamentals.
One of his fundamentals was starting every season with a 90-minute workshop on putting your shoes and socks on. He did this even though, often, the team had won the championship the previous year and many of the same players were still on the team.
He probably practiced this fundamental for two main reasons:
1) Performance: If your shoes and socks are not properly fitted (with the shoe laces the correct tension etc.), your performance can be just slightly impacted during the game. And the margins between winning and losing at the highest levels are very small. Also with poorly fitted socks and shoes you run the risk of blisters that may put you out for that game and may be even the next one.
2) Ego! The second reason he did this may also have been to make sure that the current team didn't let the shine of winning the previous season get in their way. Ego can get in the way of your next performance. This was a way of bringing the team down to earth again and focusing on the season of games ahead.
"Scaling Up" Fundamentals
In the Scaling Up overall methodology, three of the fundamentals we focus on regularly are:
1) Priorities: Of all the things you could focus on, which will make the most impact right now?
2) Metrics: The leading and lagging indicators of your progress and how then are measured?
3) Meeting Rhythms: Regular gatherings that interpret the score and plan the next actions.
With these in place whatever new learning you acquire and want to implement has a firm foundation to track its effectiveness.
Do An Audit of "What we used to do..."
Often we can think of things we "used to do" that were beneficial in some way...but over time we've forgotten about them and don't practice them any more. Rituals that may be ran for a while but then one was missed, then next month it was missed again and then months later it was lost for good.
If you can think of a few, bring them back. If you can't think of any, start some new ones that can be the foundation for new learning and new approaches.