It’s finally here. As of March 1, 2022 the new book by David Hoff and W.Warner Burke, Developing Learning Agility-Using the Burke Assessments is available at Hogan Press or online at Amazon.
Five years ago, when E.A.S.I-Consult® launched the Burke Learning Agility Inventory® (LAI) Self-Report, the idea of Learning Agility was relatively new. Warner and I felt that writing a book which unpacked the research behind the assessment, indicating how it could be used in concert with various Human Resources systems (selection, succession, and performance management), would prove to be a valuable enhancement to those systems. The challenges of the last two years have shown agility used in many different contexts. We don’t want to be confused with those other applications. For us, Learning Agility was, is, and always will be, about finding yourself in a situation where you don’t know what to do, and navigating through next steps to a solution.
Our first book, Learning Agility-The Key to Leader Potential, made a case for the concept’s importance and defined the dimension of Learning Agility. Warner described the research that he and his doctoral students had done leading to the 38 items on the assessment. The next nine chapters fleshed out the nine dimensions of Learning Agility, and then showed an example of what this might look at different levels of an organization. The last six chapters described how the Burke assessment could be used to support the different Human Resource activities.
Four years later we felt compelled to write a second book, this one focusing on how you develop the various aspect/behaviors under each of the 9 dimensions of the assessment. Since there are now four variations of the assessment, the first chapters attempt to explain how each of the assessments differ and what the advantages and disadvantages are for each assessment. There is a chapter on the key element of Feedback Giving on one of the Burke assessments. In our certification sessions there are discussion around directive versus non-directive coaching. Both are appropriate at different points in the coaching process, so we try to elaborate on the “when” and “where” of each.
Chapter 4 was one our publishers particularly liked. People are always asking me what Learning Agility looks like when it is happening out there in the world. A favorite example follows: One of my hobbies is saltwater fishing. I go out fishing half a dozen times a year. A few of us will pay a captain to take us out to catch a particular species of fish. I was out one day with Captain Rick, headed to the Gulf Stream, which is about a 2-hour ride each way. As we were talking on the way out about fishing, it struck me how learning agile Rick was without even knowing it. We talked more on the return trip, and he agreed to spend a little more time elaborating on his experiences. We met and spent more time in the details of some of his examples. I then went through and “coded” his stories for various aspects of Learning Agility. People have asked to see Learning Agility in real life. We don’t assume any of our readers are aspiring fishing captains. It seemed to be a good “arm’s length” way to see Learning Agility in action, literally.
During one of our discussions, Warner and I agreed that research is such a significant part of these assessments, that we should devote a chapter to updating the research. When he sent me his draft I was awestruck. Not only did he update the research on the Burke, he did a masterful job of describing the evolution of the field of organizational development, leadership development, and the role that Learning Agility plays in that evolution.
The next nine chapters each take apart a dimension of learning agility from Flexibility to Reflecting. There are a total of nine dimension and thirty eight items collectively, that fall under the nine dimensions. There is an answer for each of the thirty-eight items, not necessarily the answer for you if you are the taker of the assessment or for the Coach of the assessment taker. For example, in the dimension of Flexibility one of the behaviors involves “finding common themes” in a situation. We give the reader an example and then identify the common themes. The challenge for the person (whether assessee or coach) is how do I do that on my job? Once I have done that, what is my baseline on that capability? What do I need to do to introduce higher and higher levels of complexity so that this is a capability I can draw on when I don’t know what to do?
What’s next? Business and industry seem to be at a real inflection point on a global scale The balance of power seems to have shifted from the employer to the employee. Where work gets done is more of an issue for those lower on Burke’s Flexibility dimension. In the Collaborating chapter, there are a couple of examples that people can use to find common ground. The U.S. seems to be struggling with this dichotomy more than most of the rest of the world. Instant gratification is an issue, at least outside the third world countries, that continues to worsen.
In the first book, I talked about the fact that the Burke Learning Agility could be used and developed at the individual, team, or organizational level. Historically, U.S. industry has had difficulty committing to changes that take months and years. That is exactly the kind of commitment it is going to take for the benefits of the Burke Learning Agility capabilities to be realized. Frankly, I am more optimistic about the interest and commitment outside the U.S. than what I see inside the U.S.
I would like to share one final example. While working with a pharmaceutical company as they administered the Burke to all employees in a particular division, the overall scores were less than average. In their mind, this was not possible, and that is part of the problem. Some of the “soft” skills which are very “hard,” like compassion and vulnerability, allowing people to fail, but learn, are necessary conditions going forward, at least for Learning Agility.
About the Author
David Hoff is the COO and EVP of Leadership Development for E.A.S.I-Consult®. E.A.S.I-Consult works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. E.A.S.I-Consult’s specialties include leadership assessment, online pre-employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring advisement. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about E.A.S.I-Consult, visit www.easiconsult.com, email ContactUs@easiconsult.com or call 800.922.EASI.