Fast Company’s 30 Second MBA: Instant Learning at Its Best

Posted on August 31, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Where do you find time to learn?   In this fast paced world we’ve created, we don’t seem to give ourselves time to learn. Traditionally, we learn by taking a course, by talking to someone who knows more than we do, by reading, or possibly by experiencing something new. In all of these cases, learning takes time. In today’s world, we rarely devote time to learn. I’ve observed that while everyone wants to learn, when it comes down to the day-to-day decision of either attending a class or workshop or doing the job or task at hand, learning loses to the job. Doing our job seems to always be the priority.  Adult learning today is more about fitting in some short burst of information around all the other obligations and deadlines we face.

Enter Fast Company’s 30 Second MBA. The leaders at Fast Company have figured out what it takes to teach adults, and I’m impressed with their website. Talk about fast learning, this site features short 30 second video clips of advice and examples from leading executives from well-known companies. For example, recently Amy Radin, Chief Innovation Officer at E*Trade shared her thoughts on the question, “How do you acknowledge individual contribution in a collaborative environment?” Amy’s response?  To communicate, engage and recognize employees they have launched an innovation intranet and are about to launch an innovation challenge to surface, recognize and reward creative ideas from employees.

The format is very engaging. A question is posed, and someone of stature, expertise or reputation answers it. A clock on the video ticks down the time so you know it’s really just 30 seconds. Some of the more recent topics included:

-“How do you inspire a team that has failed?” answered by Ann Hand, CEO, Project Frog

– “What’s the best way to put a board together?” answered by Jared Hecht, cofounder of GroupMe and previously, the Business Development Manager at Tumblr

– “In a highly networked, global world, has the meaning of leadership changed?” answered by Alan Mulally, CEO Ford Motor Company

-“When should I leave my job and strike it out on m own?” answered by Conan O’Brien, TV personality

-“How do you know when it’s time for a change?” answered by Tony Hsieh, Founder of Zappos

Years ago, when I wrote my book, Zero Time, it had a chapter about Instant Learning. I envisioned a workplace where the information needed by individuals was available to them in the instant they needed it. In that book, we talked about Instant Learning as one of 5 disciplines needed for the ‘next generation enterprise.’ The other disciplines are Instant Value Alignment, Instant Adaptation, Instant Execution and Instant Involvement. Fast Company wrote about the book. Since then, Fast Company has documented many organization who respond instantly.  This time, they are the example; Fast Company’s site exemplifies instant learning.

Our companies can benefit from this case study, too. When thinking about delivering information and training to our staff, the focus must be on how they will consume the information. Do they have time for training classes? Can they find the expert they seek through the collaboration system?  Do they need information outside of the formal training classes?  Just like the Apple Apps Store is a model for delivery of applications, The 30second MBA is a model for delivering instant learning inside your company. Short videos of executives and internal thought leaders, organized around subjects or questions, can go a long way to create culture, share information, and enable staff to learn in the moment. That’s instant learning.

How do you learn?  And where do you find time to learn?

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