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The Learning Organization is How you Change your Future

Updated: Jul 11, 2020

Here’s something truly, deeply new:

It’s possible today to measure the impact of an action faster than ever before.

Students learning in a classroom setting. With teacher pointing at whiteboard.

Whether you’re trying to understand the impact of securing your data in a new way or the role of a changed script in increasing call center satisfaction, technology has fundamentally accelerated the speed of feedback for the changes we’re making to business (and other) processes. The purpose of feedback is learning, and this change means that the future of any enterprise now depends on its ability to learn.

The lifespan of companies is getting shorter and shorter while the time it takes to reach enormous market capitalization seems to be also shrinking. Google is grazing $1 trillion after being public just fourteen years, Facebook is close behind after just eight. “Software is eating the world” explains part of this churn and explosive growth, but the truth is that the growth is being led by companies across the business spectrum that are learning to harness the speed of feedback to make fewer mistakes and to grow faster than ever before.

TripAdvisor is one company that recently fell out of the S&P 500. Its 2019 stock price was down 30% even though it was one of the best performing stocks of 2018. Somewhere along the way this travel juggernaut faltered in converting a lot of consumer attention into revenue. The company continues to grow users and to be a repository for more and more tourism and travel information, but it is faltering against new and old “pure play” booking sites. Put another way, TripAdvisor continues to produce amazing, crowd-sourced content for travel but its faltering in learning how to engage customers with that content and how to convert engagement into revenue.

Executives seeking extraordinary growth have to make learning integral to a company’s growth. They need to produce (and even innovate) at the core of their business while experimenting with new lines of business that represent the competitive future of their industry. This dichotomy between production and learning is embodied by the Explore-Exploit framework developed by Clayton Christensen in The Innovator’s Dilemma.

The “Exploit” side of the framework represents the domain we are often most comfortable with: it represents the company’s mature lines of business or production...the core of revenue generation. Sooner or later though, revenue generation will stagnate or be disrupted unless a company has a robust “Explore” cycle running as well.

Learning, for a company, shows up as measurable commitment to and investment in the exploration of new opportunities. This commitment is hard to hide...unless a company is out in the world trying new stuff with customers it's simply not getting the feedback it needs to evolve. Unless its making and measuring change at the speed of a 21st Century market, it risks sliding too quickly into oblivion.

At infoedge, we work with customers on both sides of the framework. We help them maximally exploit current lines of business, for example by having state-of-the-art governance, risk and compliance infrastructure, while also exploring future lines of business, for example by identifying new customer opportunities that surface in the digital data and new experiences we are helping them design.

Over the past five years, infoedge has itself learned a lot from our customers and has committed to supporting innovation across all our practices. The next few entries in this series will illustrate how to map, measure, and optimize exploration and exploitation of key business lines, how to connect to the best resources for building a learning organization, and, finally, how to launch and grow a true learning culture.

Stay tuned for more on how to Change your Future!

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