Rusting away along the river Congo (Julien Harneis/

Emergencies kill learning habits

Reda SadkiLearning strategy

We recognize that large-scale, complex emergencies have a dramatic impact on many aspects of our work, including what and how we learn.

Some may feel, based on experience, that emergencies kill learning habits. We put everything on hold – including the things we do to stay current – to focus on the emergency response.

However, the disruptive power of emergencies and their intensity fosters new, informal learning and provokes incidental learning indispensable to solve new problems in new ways. That is real-time innovation.

Therefore, because emergencies and the change they bring are a constant in our work, we need to harness their disruption and intensity to ensure that lessons are learned and applied – before, during, and after. This requires new approaches, tools, and a change in mindset. We need to retain not only what we learned, but also how we learned it.

Photo: Rusting away along the river Congo (Julien Harneis/