In times of change, leaders must be more agile than ever…
Adapting to new business strategies, working across cultures, dealing with temporary virtual teams and taking on new, unfamiliar assignments all demand that leaders be flexible and learning agile. But why are some people better at this than others, and how did they get to be that way?
How can this be measured?
The Multiple Dimensions of Learning Agility
Dr. W. Warner Burke, Thorndike Professor of Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, has been able to measure learning agility. Based on 4 years of initial research, he determined that people who are more learning agile demonstrate that agility in 9 different ways:
- Being open to new ideas & proposing new solutions
- Acting on ideas quickly so that those not working are discarded & other possibilities accelerated
- Trying new behaviors, e.g., approaches, ideas, to determine what is effective
- Seeking new activities, e.g., tasks, assignments, roles, that provide opportunities to be challenged
- Discussing differences with others in ways that lead to learning & change
- Finding ways to work with others that generate new opportunities for learning
- Using various methods to remain current in one's area of expertise
- Asking others for feedback on one's ideas & overall performance
- Slowing down to evaluate one's own performance in order to be more effective
The Burke Learning Agility Suite
Burke Learning Agility Inventory (Self Report)
180° Burke LA Survey
360° Burke LA Survey
Burke Technical Report
Burke Products Pricing
How Can Learning Agility be Used in Your Workplace?
The Burke LAI is a validated tool that can be used in a selection process.* Research has established that more learning-agile people tend to be more successful performers. Burke LAI results can help inform selection decisions.
* E·A·S·I–Consult does not recommend using the Burke or any other selection tool as the sole determinant for selection.
During their first day of employment new employees are introduced to the concept of learning agility, then given feedback on their strengths and development opportunities using the Burke LAI. A supervisor can subsequently integrate this information into employee work assignments.
Most performance management systems review a person’s past performance and look at areas for development during the next review period. The Burke LAI can be used by employees and supervisors to support development planning.
Individual Assessment (Selection or Development)
Many organizations use a variety of assessment tools
- to focus on finalist candidates in a selection process, usually at mid and senior levels
- as part of development planning, usually for a small group of people seen as having high potential in the organization
In either application, tests are administered, results are summarized in a report and used for selection or development. Burke LAI results provide important insight into a person’s ability to handle unfamiliar situations.
A person promoted into a higher-level position often causes them to experience unforeseen challenges. How they meet and solve those challenges describes their learning agility.
Receiving Burke feedback during a leadership development program can help an employee accelerate how they need to learn going forward. Either the Burke LAI or the multi-rater 360° Burke LAS can be effective tools to provide participants that feedback.
Many organizations provide a select few employees with internal or external Coaches. Assessing a person’s strengths and development opportunities can assist a Coach in more effectively supporting a Coachee’s development. The Burke assessment results can enrich those discussions.
Many organizations’ succession systems attempt to make decisions based on past performance and future potential. Previously organizations have not had a good measure of potential. Learning Agility can be used for that purpose, as part of that process.
Learning Agility can be used to diagnose strengths and development needs at the team, function or organizational level. Burke results can help teams understand why they have been successful and what is impeding their ability to improve. Burke results can also inform future staffing opportunities of groups going forward.