Understanding and harnessing the Operational Reality that exists within our teams is crucial for learning and continuous improvement. In this blog post, we will delve into some key concepts that are fundamental to the success of Learning Teams.
1. Operational Reality Lives Nearest to the Work
True operational reality can be discovered in the experiences of those who live and breathe the work daily. Those that live with process XYZ, those that do process XYZ, those that work with, work through, work around, and make it happen, those that GSD (Get Sh*t Done) every day and night with process XYZ, they best understand process XYZ. They know where things work well, where things don’t, where things are actively going wrong, and they usually have some pretty great ideas about how to improve process XYZ. Their knowledge, know-how, and expertise are unparalleled and can only be found nearest to the work.
2. Seeking to Understand Lived Operational Reality Affords Us Opportunities to Improve
...Real and realistic opportunities to improve. Because operational reality is exactly that – reality. If we’re not deliberately and frequently seeking to understand the true Operational Reality that exists withing our organizations, we’re more than likely operating on Operational Fantasy.
3. The Deeper We Learn About Operational Reality, the Better Our Improvement Strategies Will Be
...Real and realistic ideas for improvement. We know that the more time we invest into learning, the better the improvement strategies that emerge. We also must recognize that it's easy to fall into the trap of fixing without truly understanding the underlying issues. Learning should be prioritized over fixing – a realization that distinguishes genuine progress from a superficial sense of improvement. By investing time in understanding the intricacies of work, we lay the foundation for more effective and sustainable improvement strategies.
4. We Are Better at Solving Problems Together
Collaboration is at the heart of effective Learning Teams. Each team member brings a unique set of perspectives, experiences, and ideas to the table. Real progress happens when diverse voices engage in open and honest conversations. These discussions, where agreement, disagreement, debate, challenge, and dissent are encouraged, can lead to the co-creation of innovative solutions. The act of solving problems together not only benefits the immediate issue at hand but also contributes to individual and collective learning.
5. Providing Deliberate Time and Space for Reflection is Vital
It’s vital to the Learning Team process; It’s vital to learning. We need time and space to reflect, to think, to go look, to ponder. Having that time and space not only gives time for gives time for ideas, answers, information to bubble up, but it also helps to relieve some of the pressure of requiring people to give instant answers, ideas or solutions for "instant better."
With Learning Teams, these concepts discussed here are not mere suggestions; the HOP principles are not optional; these better assumptions and ideas are the cornerstone of the process. Without these key ingredients – the principles, ideas, and better assumptions that underpin our actions – the risk of going through the motions without truly embodying the essence of learning teams becomes apparent.
It's crucial to carry these ideas with you, integrating them into the fabric of your team's culture. They are the compass that ensures you don't just do the process but truly engage in the spirit of learning teams. Without these guiding ideas and assumptions, the danger of perpetuating the same patterns under a different name looms.
Ready to try Learning Teams?
The HOP Nerd LLC offers several quick guides and other free resources here.
We also work with clients around the world, providing Learning Team education, facilitation, coaching, and Human & Organizational Performance consulting services.
About Sam Goodman
At the helm of The HOP Nerd LLC is its founder and chief consultant, Sam Goodman. With two decades of experience in the field of safety, risk management, and performance improvement, Sam is a leading expert in Human & Organizational Performance (HOP) methodologies. He holds a deep passion for empowering organizations to create safe and high-performing work environments.
Sam works with clients throughout industry - providing services to organizations operating in manufacturing, healthcare, construction, oil & gas, mining, power generation, utilities, and more - focusing on operationalizing HOP and creating sustainability along the way.
In addition to his consulting work, Sam is a prolific author, sharing his knowledge and insights through various publications. His latest book, the best-selling "10 Ideas to Make Safety Suck Less," has become a vital resource for professionals in the HOP field. Additionally, his best-selling Starting Points: Operationally Curious Questions™ - a collection of operationally curious “icebreakers” designed to act as starting points for deep and meaningful operational learning conversations - has become a crucial resource for leaders around the globe.