I often hear companies say “people are our greatest asset”. What I think they really mean to say is “knowledge is our greatest asset” but they believe knowledge to be irretrievably locked within the heads of people.
Over the years, many methods have been developed to transfer this knowledge. When we can see what people do to perform a simple task, we replicate the task and make people practice it. This is called training. Sometimes, the knowledge is less physical. We communicate the theory using a variety of symbols and metaphors and call it teaching. Sometimes, we let inexperienced people stand next to experienced people for a long time and hope that something valuable rubs off. We call this mentoring.
None of these methods has, in the past, been perfect. One of the key reasons for this which is only just finding its way into the learning industry is that people learn in much more individual and unique ways than has ever been realised before. Of course, throughout history, the best teachers have known this intuitively and have exploited it. One great way to leverage the individuality of learners is through stories, as stories tie into those unique mental processes and generate a powerful and individual learning experience for each listener. The best teachers have always been good storytellers, but unfortunately the training boom of the 1970s and 1980s suppressed and trivialised the power of stories, because we couldn’t see how they worked and they didn’t seem to be appropriate in a business context.
Thankfully, things have moved on considerably. The business environment is not what it was 20 years ago. The time has come for a learning revolution. We, as individuals, can demand more and expect more. We have tasted the power of knowledge.
Companies cannot exist without knowledge. The people in positions of real power in organisations are not always the managers but are often the good networkers – the communication hubs. People who know where to get things, how to get things done, who to go to for what you need. You have probably experienced this yourself – someone who doesn’t have a terribly important job title but who seems to know everything about the workings of the organisation.
This learning revolution is bringing with it an increasing demand for training in the basic human skills – communication, personal management, influence, creating change, flexibility, resourcefulness, empathy and so on. Where do you get training in these disciplines? Traditionally, before corporate training came along, you would go and find masters who were outstanding in these fields of human ability and learn from them.
The good news is that there’s a short cut. A group of people have already distilled and refined the knowledge that makes up personal mastery. They called it Neuro Linguistic Programming, which shows that you can’t get everything right. Perhaps in the future they’ll also distil the knowledge of people who are good with brand names.
NLP training provides an excellent foundation for improving the effectiveness of everyone in your organisation. NLP training taps into the uniqueness of each learner and enables them to create their own powerful tools for selling, presenting, negotiating, managing, changing, leading and learning – in fact, all of the skills that underpin the success of your organisation.
NLP is the operating system that your people build their own applications upon. In my experience, everyone who attends a NLP course takes away something unique and powerful – the ability to adapt what they have learned to their own skills, needs and responsibilities.
The question is, how do you continue to develop this? How do you protect this investment in learning, people and knowledge?
Why are cars with main dealer service histories worth more? Why do companies buy maintenance services? Why do world class sports players still practice every week? The answer is that regular maintenance protects the original investment.
Are you running the latest operating system on your PC? Does your company upgrade it regularly? Why would your company spend money on operating software? It doesn’t do anything! Whether you use Windows or MacOS or any other operating system, it doesn’t actually do anything useful for you, the user. The operating system lets you run other applications – software that allows you to write letters, draw pictures and add up numbers. These are useful tasks because they extend your capability as a human being.
Consider this. A PC cannot do anything that you cannot already do. You can write, you can draw and you can add up. A PC can often do it faster and more consistently, but it cannot do anything that you can’t do. Based on this thinking, it’s a wonder that anyone buys PCs at all, yet they do. Can you imagine life without a PC? Can you imagine life without telephones or cars? These technologies are all enablers. They extend your capabilities. NLP is an enabling technology – it enables you to extract the maximum performance from yourself.
Protecting your investment in knowledge is easy, once you realise that practising the basics is the way to achieve high performance.
When you run a NLP training program in your organisation, you must accept that the days spent in the classroom are the start of the process. NLP is about life, about people. Every moment of every day is an opportunity for people to develop their skills. Give people specific opportunities to get together and celebrate their learning. Provide learning support groups and practice groups at lunchtimes and evenings to help people develop their skills more and more. Lifelong learning isn’t about going on lots of training courses, it’s about providing opportunities for people to satisfy their hunger for knowledge.
A learning organisation isn’t a place where focus groups meet to discuss feedback forms. It isn’t a place where there are suggestion boxes in the tea rooms. It isn’t a place where people are afraid to ask customers “why did you buy from us?” in case they change their minds. Many organisations want to investigate what went wrong, but few ever ask what goes right. You might even think some organisations are afraid of knowledge.
If knowledge is power then people are batteries. NLP turns them into power stations.