Learn Like a Warrior

learn like a warriorWe’re still riding the high from last night’s big NBA championship win — Golden State Warriors, 129-120, over the Cleveland Cavaliers in a historic Game 5.

This victory hit close to home for us. We’re a Bay Area company and proudly sponsored the event (check out the awesome scoreboard picture). But beyond locality, why does basketball belong on the Litmos blog? The answer is that the Warriors are the ultimate “learning team.” They could be called the Golden State Learning Warriors.

What Does it Mean to Learn Like a Warrior?
Coach Steve Kerr and his staff practice and teach a philosophy of constant learning. Even with big stars and a deep bench of immensely talented players, the skills of the game are never perceived (or proclaimed) as perfected; they’re a perpetual work-in-progress.

Earlier in the playoffs Kerr was quoted as saying, “Each series presents a totally different set of problems, and you just have to adapt.”

The Learning Warriors adapted to new strategies throughout the season. Some of them were considered risky and unconventional, such as asking bigtime players to take on lesser roles. Pro-athlete egos needed to be set aside for the changes to work. Let’s face it; humility isn’t a word usually in the same sentence as NBA. But on this team, it was part of the learning and growing as a team. What a rare sight to see big ballers admit that they hadn’t executed their assignments properly. No fingers were pointed anywhere other than to each player’s or coach’s own accountability. Ultimately, continuing to humbly learn on the job became one of this golden team’s greatest strengths, a secret weapon against boasting (sometimes brawling) opponents.

Adam Lauridsen summed up this culture of learning beautifully in 95 Games Later, the Warriors Are Still Learning and Improving:”

“The creativity in dealing with challenges has been obvious enough for casual fans to appreciate. The coaches are fortunate to have intelligent and high-character players who are so receptive to the founding principles of their approach — selfless ball-movement and accountable defense. But the players also are fortunate to have coaches so dedicated to refining their approach to fit their players’ skills and weaknesses. The end result may look natural and effortless… but this result was not some manifest destiny. The Warriors have not confused faith in their ability for infallibility.”

Up Your Learning Game to Pro-level.
The humble dedication, adaptability, and hard work displayed by the Warriors may inspire you to work even harder in your role. How can you take learning in your organization to the next level? What would that look like in your company? Perhaps rather than seeing training as an obligatory function, you could transform it into a deeply strategic element of improving performance, retaining employees, earning revenue, increasing sales, and more.

As a starting point, try applying these sport-inspired principles to your learning / training program:

  • Develop fundamental skills. Today’s L&D teams need to learn and practice their digital skills. The tools you used five years ago will not keep up with the pace of the digital learning age. To keep your team in winning shape, be sure to continue to offer training on new technologies that support anytime-anywhere-any-device learning.
  • Create a strategic game plan. The most successful learning programs align the digital learning strategy with the overall corporate strategy. This requires a good deal of work, discipline, and communication, but the end result is a stronger team and (if you train customers) greater loyalty and engagement.
  • Build a deep bench. With digital learning, there’s definitely strength in numbers. By inviting a lot of contributors to help create courses or other learning materials, you enrich the learner experience. There’s tons of knowledge in any organization, so be sure to tap into internal resources to pass the ball around and get more people in the game.
  • Earn fan loyalty. Most training professionals aren’t wired for self-promotion, but it can really help your program to drive some buzz around it. Take advantage of internal communication channels to promote the latest courses or other successes. Bit by bit, you’ll create internal fans who support and appreciate the value of your hard work.