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Innovation

Sir Clive Woodward: Why you’ll never win if you’re not learning

Hive Learning founder Sir Clive Woodward and Chief Exec Angus McCarey pool their thoughts on how businesses can survive, and thrive, in the knowledge economy.

There’s a reason why Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett live by the 5 hour rule, dedicating at least an hour a day to learning. As Michael Simmons puts it, ‘If you’re not spending 5 hours a week learning, then you’re being irresponsible’. In his recent article for Quartz, he explains why;

“We are at the beginning of a period of what renowned futurist Peter Diamandis calls rapid demonetization, in which technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper — or even free.”

There’s no escaping the fact that knowledge is the new currency. Over the last 15 years, technology has contributed to the loss of over 800,000 low-skilled jobs — but also lead to the creation of 3.5 million higher-skilled ones in their place, according to a Deloitte report on technology and the workplace.

As summarised by Simmons, ‘Those who work really hard throughout their career but don’t take time out of their schedule to constantly learn will be the new “at-risk” group.’ And that’s not just limited to employees; it’s true for businesses too. Organisations who ignore the need to embed learning as a daily habit in their workforce will not survive in this new age.

So how do you make sure that your business is equipped to survive, and thrive, in the new knowledge economy? Simmons suggests that the key is starting a learning ritual.

1. Hire on aptitude for learning

Start with talent. Don’t hire based on the skills your future employees have now; hire based on how well they’ll adopt the new skills they’ll need in the future.

One of the most important components in assessing the aptitude of a potential hire is teachability.

For every new hire, ask yourself — are they a rock or a sponge?

Sponges have a passion for their subject and a passion for learning; they are open to new ideas and are constantly on the lookout for new and progressive ways of doing things. Then there are rocks.

Rocks are dangerous and hinder business growth; they are typically closed to new ideas and are often prone to the delusion they know it all. What’s more, rocks can be more prominent in senior hires; people can progress from sponge to rock as they climb the career ladder, getting stuck in a rut.

Avoid hiring rocks by focusing your hiring strategy on natural talent and teachability — does your future employee invest in their self development and continuous improvement? If they don’t, they may not have the toolkit they need to help you grow your business in the knowledge economy.

As billionaire Paul Tudor Jones puts it:

“Intellectual capital will always trump financial capital.”

 

2. Enable your teams to share knowledge fast

‘Discover, distil, do’ is the mantra that helped the England Rugby Team win the World Cup in 2003 and that gives the executive teams we coach the power to drive behaviour change. What does that mean in reality? Discover a problem, distil the problem until you get to the cause, and do something to fix it.

This applies to things you do well too:

Driving innovation means constantly asking how you can take something that is effective and do it better.

Simmons argues that the key to surviving in the knowledge economy is to identify valuable knowledge at the right time. Imagine you could amplify timely and relevant learning, sharing solutions with 100s, or even 1000s, of employees across countries and time zones in an instant. The results could be transformative.

 

3. Go beyond the 5 hour rule: prioritise learner retention

‘Increasing the results you receive from each hour of learning by using proven hacks that help you remember and apply what you learn’ is one of Simmons key pillars for developing a learning ritual.

While it’s essential to learn new skills quickly, give your teams the best shot at retaining knowledge too. Agile learning leaders are no strangers to the concept that lonely learning methods don’t equate to long-term learner retention. This is where the 5 hour rule can fall down; reading alone may not be enough.

When you share something you’ve learnt with just 3 others, learning retention increases 9X.

That’s why collaborative learning apps like Hive Learning increase learning retention by 50% in comparison to traditional methods.

 

4. Embed learning as habit: make it daily routine

Simmons says; ‘Just as we have minimum recommended dosages of vitamins, steps per day, and minutes of aerobic exercise for maintaining physical health, we need to be rigorous about the minimum dose of deliberate learning that will maintain our economic health.’

One of his key recommendations is to find the time for reading and learning even when you are busy and overwhelmed. To make it easy for our teams to learn, we need to go where their attention is.

We unlock our smartphones 9 times an hour, so give your teams the tools to learn on the go. Then make sure your learning content is relevant, purposeful and bite-size; designed to be consumed in short, manageable chunks.

50% of learning and collaboration on the Hive Learning app happens outside office hours and 65% of usage is mobile; your team’s daily commute could be the key to unlocking the next stage of your business growth strategy.

5. Don’t treat digital alone as the answer

Tom Puthiyamadam, a Global Digital Services Leader at PwC, said in a recent interview that too many businesses treat ‘digital’ as a crutch — a lazy person’s way of describing the transformation we need to go through, but without enough action to create the significant behavioural change required.

In other words, digital alone is not the answer. Too many businesses simply take content that used to be on paper and put it into a digital format, or they employ a social messaging platform, or an LMS — and think these tools will solve everything.

They won’t if used independently. At Hive Learning, we believe the key to behaviour change is the unique combination of relevant content + social learning + continuous action, underpinned by mobile. Only when you unite these 4 elements can you really drive a change agenda, and prepare your business to capitalise on the knowledge economy.

Embedding learning into your organisation will be the key to growing your business in this new age and you can do it by following these five essential steps.

As Microsoft’s Nigel Willson eloquently put it at Learning Technologies 2018,

“Learning leads to innovation. Innovation leads to creativity. Combined, they lead to relevance today and relevance tomorrow.”

This article was inspired by Michael Simmons’ brilliant article on the fundamental importance of daily learning for Quartz’s Get Smart column.

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Sir Clive Woodward: Why you’ll never win if you’re not learning

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Angus McCarey (he/him) Chief Executive

Angus joined Hive Learning as Chief Executive in 2015. After working in strategic consulting at Bain & Company, Angus took on a variety of roles directing marketing and customer experience at eBay, before taking the helm as Chief Marketing Officer at Graze.com during their rapid international expansion.

Angus brings a wealth of experience in helping both enterprise and scale-up organisations embed the behaviors, mindsets and customer experience critical for growth, with both a commercial and experiential edge. At Hive Learning, Angus lives his passion for helping millions of people grow their skills together everyday.