Alvin Toffler – Learn, Unlearn, Relearn

I love this quote from the futurist Alvin Toffler, who is has studied the shifts of technology and how it changes and impacts the society at large:

The illiterate of the future are not those who can’t read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

One of the largest challenges that any organizational change agent experiences is resistance to new ideas, new concepts, and new perspective of how to do what they do better.

When handled badly the person can be shunned, put out, or even demonized for even proposing such a “dramatic shift” that would fundamentally challenge the tightly-held philosophies and corporate culture. The problem is that they are perceived as a threat while in fact a new idea, in and of itself, is not a threat – it’s just a new idea!

Alvin_Toffler_agile
Alvin Toffler

But we, at times, so desperately cling to the things that are familiar that we reject anything that would differ in the slightest from our worldview – as Toffler would say, this is to their own detriment and potential downfall.

We have the great honor and pleasure to work with progressive and innovative companies. We also have the privilege to work with organizations that have very rich and storied histories that span decades.

You may be surprised but in both the “progressive” and “innovative” as well as the more “traditional” companies we have discovered equal resistance!

You see, it’s much less about the corporate history, the corporate culture, or even the environment in which we introduce the concepts of human capital optimization and organizational development coaching – it’s about each individual opening their mind to the possibility of learning something new.

As simple a concept as this may sound it is absolutely imperative that each person allows the possibility of something different, the possibility of an alternate perspective, and the possibility of something good happening as a result.

It does, at times, start with senior leadership or management but it’s application is always at the individual and team level.

If you’re not open learning, unlearning, and perhaps even relearning what you’ve been taught and experienced, as Alvin Toffler suggests, you can essentially deem yourself as functionally illiterate – and we know (as you know as well) that anyone functionally illiterate doesn’t last long and is easily replaced by someone who is.

Author: peter

Peter Saddington is an Organizational Scientist and Certified Scrum Trainer. You can find him at AgileforAll.com

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