Growing the self learning gene for Digital Transformation: 7 principals to follow

May 10, 2017 • FeaturesManagementNick FrankDigital TransformationSi2 partners

If the key to adoption of new technologies in Field Services lies more in people than technology itself, then embedding the self-learning DNA gene must be the priority for all organisations wanting to be winners writes Nick Frank, Si2 Partners...

Previously we have observed that those field service organisations that have been able to quickly adapt to the fast evolving digital environment display a common trait “the self-learning gene”.

This is the innate ability to continually move through the problem, solution, problem, solution learning loop that propels organisations forward, such that they are comfortable experimenting with new approaches, have an outside-in perspective, are able to solve problems systematically and generally embrace change as an exciting part of business life.

There are many change methodologies that can be used to achieve this goal, but if leaders are not careful, they can find themselves hiding behind the process.

There are many change methodologies that can be used to achieve this goal, but if leaders are not careful, they can find themselves hiding behind the process. It doesn’t matter if we are the CEO or on the shop floor, change starts with us ‘the person’. If we as an individual can become solution focussed, then it becomes possible to unleash the natural creativity that lies within most of our people. The good news is that most of us intuitively know the right things to do, we just struggle to implement our thoughts.


Perhaps harder to grasp is that there is no defined roadmap to follow, but there are guidelines, which we can apply to our particular situation. If you want to achieve a high performing, adaptive organisation through developing your ’self-learning genes’, then these are seven principals you may consider:

Communicate, collaborate and communicate again:

This is the mind-set of leadership change. Get comfortable with being out there, in front of your team providing a clear direction, but with the clear understanding that it is your team members who will deliver a great solution.

As Dwight Eisenhower US president and Army General said: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done, because they want to do it”

Ensure your team has a sense of purpose:

A sense of purpose is what drives us all forward in both a private and work environments. It comes from 3 perspectives:

  • Know why we are here!
  • Feel that the business we work for stands for the things we believe in
  • That there is consistency between what a business says and what it does.

By constantly focussing on these three elements, sharing experiences, best practices and success stories people start to believe in an organisations purpose.

Focus on the language of solutions:

It is hard for many English speakers to appreciate, but language is the gateway to understanding culture. Without speaking French, it is challenging to truly understand what it means to be French. The same is true in companies, which means achieving a common solution focused language is a critical step in embedding a ‘way of thinking’ within the DNA of the organisation.

For example a phrase that was embedded in me while I was running a Field Service organisation was “Fix yourself, before you fix your customer”. It was used and applied to every person in the organisation and is still used today!

Be a role model in what you say and do:

It is important to remember that you cannot tell people how to think. They have to figure that out for themselves. The only tools you have is to influence your team by what you say and what you do! A great examples would be the key performance indicators you focus on to manage your business. These say a lot to your people about what are your priorities.

Relentless follow up and training:

Evolving a company intrinsic DNA is not a one shot event. It’s a journey, its relentless, be prepared for the long haul. In small teams it is possible to drive this as a manager, but within larger organisations, a more formalised programme is required to touch every individual.

Training and support programmes that emphasis and re-emphasis solution thinking should be embedded into your annual budget if you are really serious about change.

Be open to Outside-IN thinking:

It’s a sad fact, but people will often listen more to people outside their immediate organisation, whether that be another department, customer or consultant. Be aware of this and use it to your advantage to influence and embed the ‘Self-Learning gene’ in your people

Be prepared to manage people out of the organisation:

Sometime people for whatever reason are not prepared to change. In my experience more people than you might think can live with change (I am an optimist), but when it’s clear that its not working, be prepared to be ruthless and actively manage poor performers out of the organisation.

In a short article it is difficult to fully discuss all the aspects of the self learning culture and why it is important. So in co-operation with Field Service News, we propose to organise a virtual round table later in the year to discuss with peers how to embed the ‘Self-Learning gene’ into your organisational DNA.

If you would like to participate, please contact either Kris Oldland or Nick Frank.

Si2 ON-Demand is a unique advisory and support service that enables top performing leaders to solve problems and get things done, quickly, easily and cost effectively.



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