Monday, 12 January 2015

Lessons on learning from the spiritual to the secular - enough is never enough

Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.
From a quotation by Desmond Tutu 

The purpose of this post is to revisit a model of learning that I put together as part of some study for a coaching qualification that I completed in 2013.  The model that I produced I've called NODES in recognition of the fact that, for me, much if not all of what I learn is accomplished in relationship with others.  It emerged as a means of conceptualising a number of things that felt important to me about the process of learning: I learn with and from others, and the resposibilities of learning: if I am learning from others then I have a responsibility to be generous in sharing what I am learning.

I've embedded a link to a Slideshare presentation about NODES and the underpinning ideas, from which I have drawn, to develop the model.

From the spiritual

I want to draw attention to a conversation that I listened to in December 2014 when the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Rt Hon Justin Welby, was interviewed for the BBC Desert Island Discs programme.  In the conversation the presenter Kirsty Young asked the Archbishop a question about prayer:

KY "How do you know when a time of prayer has finished? How do you know when enough is enough?
JW: "I don't think enough is ever enough in prayer.  Because prayer is about engaging with Jesus Christ, us allowing his presence to shape us and to bring what is in us to him or just to enjoy his presence and there's never enough of that and certainly not in this job is there ever enough of it and so I don't think I can answer it because I don't think I've got to enough of it yet."
I thought that this was an interesting response for a number of reasons: The Archbishop was underlining the importance of relationships and inter-relationships, the need to engage in a relationship openly, whether through conversation or simply enjoying being with another person; to being open to our thoughts and feelings and to allow these thoughts to be shaped by others; to take seriously our own experience and to make it available to others so they too can use the ideas to develop their own experiences.  In sum, it was pointing the way towards what it means to be human and therefore, in the context of who was saying it, how to live in the image of God.

To the secular

From the secular domain of everyday workplace learning, here are three examples of how Rio Tinto, Xerox and LV= are solving problems by invoking the spirit and the practice of NODES. 

  • Fixing the brakes on a bulldozer: a Community of Practice (CoP) success story from Rio Tinto link

  • Mending photocopiers: an Infographic from Xerox link

  • Helping customers get the right information: a case study from LV= link 

Conclusion - enough is never enough


It is in the Archbishop's response to the question 'How do you know when enough is enough?' that I relate something of my own experience of what it means to learn with and learn from others.  From the cosmic to the commonplace, from the spiritual to the secular, it is in the work of networking with others that we create the spaces and the opportunities to learn continuously and ongoingly.  In that sense enough is never enough.


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