My mind is continually blown by one simple mental model that executives and entrepreneurs seem to live by.

“We know all we need to know.”

It seems like the bigger the company, the more prevalent this model is. The more the executives start to see themselves as somehow above the fray. That their problems are insoluble and one day they will retire. If they can just make it until that day, everything will be golden.

I see it even among entrepreneurs. Many would rather bankrupt or close their company than ask for help. Rather lock the door than assess what it is they are good at and outsource or hire for the rest of the stuff that needs to be done. Rather fail on their own than let someone help them.

I don’t know if this is based on the cowboy culture of the US. The great independence mindset that we somehow think we can know everything and be good enough at everything to succeed in a leadership role.

It’s true that at one point in the past, you could know every recorded piece of information on the planet. The day the first book was written. Since then? Not so much.

As a capital driven society, we seem to be deeply entrenched in how to put capital to productive use. As long as it’s a thing. 3 year payback on a new truck? Sure, we’ll buy that.

But our people? Nah, they already know everything they need to know to do what we want them to do. Which means we won’t learn as an organization. And that means we are at our peak of productivity right now. Or, more likely, a few years ago when we were bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Get that right. If you don’t learn, your skills are declining, even as you read this. And if you lead a big company that doesn’t believe in investing in your people to create a learning organization, your best days are already behind you.

I don’t mean to rant and be a doomsday person, but this is really happening throughout the US.

And I don’t want my kids to suffer from it.

4 Ways to Move Toward a Learning Organization

  1. Start a book club in your company. Read the first half of a book in two weeks and have your supervisory team lead the group in how to implement. Then read the second half and see what the group actually accomplished.
  2. Send people to outside industry, or outside of your industry completely, conferences. Charge them with sharing what they’ve learned with their teams when they get back.
  3. Perform After Action Reviews (or Post Mortems) when projects get completed. Integrate the learnings into your play book. Don’t just talk about the same old misses every time – incorporate them into the process for the next time to avoid it happening.
  4. Create internal learning subgroups made up of members of different areas of the business. The buzzword is cross-functional, but my challenge to you is different ways of thinking, not just different departments. Read and use Six Thinking Hats by Edward DeBono for a different way to think about running a team meeting.

I apologize for the rant. It makes me sick to see how much lost opportunity executives and leaders actively choose to ignore. I think it’s dereliction of duty to be honest.

Shouldn’t we all expect more of our leaders?

ActionCOACH of Madison, LLC, is growing a kick ass community of entrepreneurial thinkers who want to think bigger and do bigger, through business, so that we can all live amazing lives full of energy, joy, passion and riches. Together we create awesome companies who are passionate about their people, their communities and their profits! Whenever you’re ready for coaching, apply at actioncoach.com/driven/business-health-check