Change is life’s constant. Alvin Toffler said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” There is need to move from rigid, coherent learning and accept a more agile and collaborative approach as leaders. This is a winding road for the mind, so buckle up!
To unlearn requires that you are willing to pursue the unfamiliar. Self-limiting ways of thinking need to be confronted and it may not necessarily mean that the timing is always going to be perfect. Leadership has to be steps ahead and for the momentum to be passed down to teams, you must be ready to say ‘Yes to the mess’ that comes with the process.Ever heard someone comment, ‘my mind must be playing tricks on me?’, Well, unlearning gives you the grand opportunity to play tricks on your mind. Consider it a habit-breaker. To begin this odd journey of obliterating memory, you may need to form teams with diversity, strategically blending in those unlearning change agents. Have the unlearning team foster curiosity and be able to begin the unlearning process through trial and error of erasing the engram. Unlearning then begs the question, could ‘think outside the box’ mean that the box is self imposed and does not exist in the first place?’
The unlearning process requires deliberation on the part of the leader first and upon the baby steps of his success, introduce the same to the team. This creates room for internal biases to be confronted and aligned to the new vision. Leadership must be open to proactive interference and help their teams to overcome the assisted living mentality. Today, most jobs are done by augmented workers whereby they rely on other outsourced platforms to support their function. The buzz about putting one’s business on social media is an example of how the internet supports many businesses to reach their customers. The internet providers rely on suppliers and the loop goes on and on.
As a leader, what approach should one use to successfully bring their teams to par? First let us consider trainings. Often, trainings are done across the board, hoping that all the trainees are at the same level of reception of the content shared. Compare a wholesaler who sells in bulk and a retailer who comes into direct contact with the product often. Leadership requires that when conducting trainings, the members represented should be screened to allow the trainer to meet everyone’s needs and use an approach that legitimizes the individual differences of the team members. Important to note is that this approach may vary for each team’s needs and again, the leader must ensure that focus is maintained to birth success.
Second, it is good to know that whether unlearning takes place by intention, incident or extinction of knowledge, the team members who begin to experience procedural hiccups await your prompt action and guidance. Though not all of them have learning agility, the leader may have to consider the ‘bottom line’ of the process and work backwards to achieve it successfully.
More so, the team members have a significant role to play in supporting the unlearning process. Leaders must involve them through feedback channels to see how well they understand the unlearning process and how ready they are for execution. Team members require support and consistency to be able to bridge the gap between unlearning and relearning. Exposing the ‘big secret’ to the cause of unlearning as a leader, draws in the team causing them to own the process and give as much feedback as possible during the transition.
Finally, unlearning brings a team together as they are all one minded to achieve set goals. The leader is tasked to ensure that cohesion in the team is maintained. Execution requires deliberate action to leave little or no room for pitfalls. The road to unlearning is surely winding, right?! In summation, unlearning calls for leadership that is proactive and agile and a team that is committed to unlearn old processes and mind maps. Both must fan the smoke until a fire is lit.