A recent report on crowd control techniques provides a powerful learning reminder for us. A major – and sometimes deadly problem – at many large venues with huge crowds such as stadiums or concerts is everyone jamming the exits when it’s over and time to leave. Engineers in Japan have found a counterintuitive solution; obstacles speed up the pressing hoards of people eager to get home. Strategically placed obstacles slow the crowd down just enough to better control the flow of people through narrower exits points. This allows more people to exit more quickly.

This is similar to the common problem of being too rushed or busy to learn. The American writer and futurist, Alvin Toffler observed, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” I’ve spent decades listening to people explain that they just don’t have time for personal learning or investing in training and organizational development. As they get busier, they have even less time for learning. As they have less time for learning, they need to work harder because the tools and skills they are using get ever duller. As they work harder and faster using old ideas, methods, and approaches, there’s even less time to learn how to be more effective. This spiral leads down the slippery slope into the swamp of Wallow Hallow.

I contrast this all-too-common “victim” approach with the highly effective people, teams, and organizations I’ve been privileged to work with. They have reversed the vicious busy circle into a virtuous circle of continuous growth and development, leading to ever more effectiveness which leads to less crazy-busyness and more time to learn. Here’s how Barry Chow, a Client who’s built a highly successful business in Calgary, Alberta, puts it:

“‘I don’t have time to learn,’ is actually equivalent to ‘I don’t have time to improve.’ This is poison to both our professional development and to our own fulfillment as individuals.

‘Learning’ is sometimes easy to dismiss, whereas ‘improving’ is an unarguably desirable goal that leaves no wiggle-room for procrastination. Learning isn’t just some necessary evil that we were finished with after our schooling, but a lifelong process that is indispensable to our continuing growth and improvement as human beings.”

By slowing down, learning, refocusing, and being more strategic in how we use our time we can actually speed up our effectiveness.

Thriving in Turbulent Times Webcast: No Charge Downloads/Archive and In-House Options

If you and others in your team/organization enjoyed my December 3 webcast, I can customize a Thriving in Turbulent Times webcast for your organization. Click here for an outline of webcast customizing options or to view/review the archived webcast.

My December 3 Thriving in Turbulent Times webcast is now available as a free podcast download from ITunes. Click here to access it.

Interview on Key Concepts behind Growing @ the Speed of Change Now Available

I had a wide ranging interview with Bob McLean, a 52 year icon of the broadcasting business (including years at CBC,) who thoroughly dug into Growing @ the Speed of Change. I knew I was in for a really engaging and in-depth interview when I arrived at the radio station to meet Bob and saw that his copy of my book was worn, dog-eared, and full of notes. I told him that nothing warms an author’s heart more than seeing his book with those signs of heavy usage. Click here for an outline of what we covered and to listen to the interview.