Boarding Royal Carribean's Vision of the Seas in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (Light Nomad/flickr.com)

Onboarding

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

How do we get newcomers onboard? Onboarding refers to the mechanism through which new staff acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective “insiders” of the organization. The organization’s onboarding process, for most us, was very informal and lacked structure, except for various administrative tasks. We know that there are no shortcuts, given the amount and complexity of tacit knowledge that is difficult to transfer. When we started working in the team, we may have found gaps in our knowledge, skills, or experience – including ones that no one could foresee or expect. Efforts to formalize onboarding inevitably run into the same difficulties as formal training. When a person arrives in a role, there are likely to be urgencies to attend to. In the process of dealing with these, newcomers have to establish themselves, begin building relationships with others, and make sense of the complexities of the workplace, often …

Benjamin West, Calypso's Reception of Telemachus and Mentor (Daniel Reinberg/flickr.com)

Mentoring

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Fostering relationships that enable and sustain collaboration and inquiry requires building trust about both technical competencies and each person’s interest in dialogue. Therefore, two contexts require special attention. First, when newcomers come onboard to the team, they may or may not be familiar with the general organizational context or the specific working conditions. This requires thinking through how they are brought on board (“onboarding”). Second, when a performance gap is identified, in-service coaching and mentoring may be considered, especially if stopping work is not a possibility or the gap covers tacit knowledge that is not taught formally. Although coaching and mentoring require specialized skills, most of us recognize that the mentoring and support we receive helps develop our capabilities. Having received support, we are also willing to provide it, with or without institutional support. When we identify a gap in knowledge, skills or experience in a new colleague, how do we provide …

Synchronicity of Color (DWPittard/flickr.com)

Encourage collaboration and team learning

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Our areas of work are siloed due to limited resources and time, the huge scope of our global mandate, the high level of specialization required, and internal politics. Collaboration and learning as a team (beyond the unit level) requires leadership and concerted effort. It is hard to sustain over time. Yet, to collaborate we build, sustain and renew many individual relationships based on trust and need. These are much less subject to fluctuations in our environment. We may get to know each other and become friends first, perhaps because we are work next to each other in the office, share lunch or coffee breaks, or engage in the same activities outside of work. Being in the field together is a powerful accelerator. We also share the commitment to the mission, despite our frustrations with the here and now. This is how, on one level, we come to establish trust, by …

Crossing Golden Gate (Noël/flickr.com)

I have no idea

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

What do we do when we cannot achieve certainty? We increasingly accept that we need to make decisions without the comfort of certainty. It is okay to not know. It is healthy to accept the unknown as we no longer seek certainty. It is when we are no longer certain that we learn. In some cases, uncertainty opens the door to knowledge that we were not seeking. This is incidental learning. The organization still expects certainty. Some of our leaders demand it. As working professionals, we are expected to provide answers, i.e. to know. Yet our expertise is increasingly in our ability to respond when faced with new contexts (for example, new technologies, reduced budgets, or changes in political leadership), new challenges (for example, Ebola or noncommunicable diseases) where learning is the process of constructing viable but context-specific answers. We straddle between expectations that we know (as experts) and the …

Noah and Reg discuss teaching and learning theories

Teaching and learning in The Walking Dead (S05E14)

Reda Sadki Culture, Learning

In this episode, the young Noah has asked to meet with Reg, an elderly architect or engineer who had the know-how to build the wall that protects the community of Alexandria, which some believe has survived zombies and other predators mostly by sheer luck. Noah recognizes that it’s more than luck – and wants to Reg to pass on knowledge and expertise that is different from that needed only to avert death. Reg shows him a notebook in which he’s kept personal notes on events, and offers one of the notebooks so that Noah can begin to keep a record. Outcome? Noah dies in the next episode. So much for transmissive learning and container views of knowledge. (It appears that YouTube will prevent viewers in some countries from accessing the brief excerpt I’ve posted there. Apologies if you are unable to see it.) – How is it that you called this extremely early …

Islamic mosaic pattern (Jörg Reuter/flickr.com)

Patterns and trends

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

How do we navigate these rules while achieving intended purpose? When we need new knowledge, where do we go? How do we go about it? How do we limit our exploration to ensure that we can still deliver on our tasks? What if we need to upset or question assumptions about how we work in order to find the answers we need (learn)? Wherever we may sit in the organization – from the headquarters in the capital city to the field –, our field of vision cannot possibly span the global complexity we face. When we analyze a situation or a new problem, we are looking for patterns. We build the “muscle” of pattern recognition through practice. This is where we mobilize our experience, which sometimes manifests itself as intuition. As we gain experience, we learn to trust our intuition and deepen the insights we bring to dialogue with our …