Harald Schirmer - es kommt nicht nur darauf an, was wir tun, sondern WIE wir es tun!

Your choice: Evolution or Revolution

How much time do you really invest in learning?

Sometimes it feels like living on a different planet. For some people all the innovation, technology and (digital) options feel very disruptive, the future completely unclear, even frightening. Others can’t wait to get the next update…

If change feels like a revolution – re-think your priorities!

Electric cars, Wearables, Bitcoins, Virtual Reality… what a Buzzword bingo, but hey, there is nothing revolutionary or disruptive:

todays technology is around for quite a long time!

There have been electric cars 20 years before Ford or Daimler invented combustion engines, Virtual Reality came up in the 1970’s. I bought my first PDA (what we call Smartphone today) 1997 – the same year I started Video-conferencing too.

There are not so many new things, they just became „normal“

PSION 3a / 3c, Compac iPaq, HP, Sony, Siemens, Samsung, Nokia…

How much time do you „invest“ in learning

If you start learning for ONE HOUR per week now, by the end of this year, you will have collected 20 hours of new knowledge already!

We underestimate the power of little habits!

If you read the „newspaper“ (15 minutes) every morning for 30 years, you might be up to date about wars, politics, love affairs of VIPs and who won the last football game, but you also spent almost 300 days (8 hours each)!!!

If you spend just 1 hour per week to learn something new for 30 years, it adds up to 200 days of relevant knowledge about innovation, technology or new trends in your expertise.

evolution versus revolution - technology and learning
evolution versus revolution – technology and learning

Of course, if you do not have time for learning, it must be overwhelming.

Everyone says Learning is Top Priority!

Well most studies tell us: 99% claim learning (specifically in the digital age) is top priority. Specially in the upper hierarchy, learning time is absolutely rare – no time, is the most common excuse.

After a presentation of a successful solution for a really long term problem in a management circle, the boss told me: „Harald it’s great what you are showing us, and it makes sense, but we do not have time for that„. The first time I heard that I have been honestly „shocked“ and replied:

„You are telling me, you see a gold bar in front of you, and you have no time to spend it?
That is declaring bankruptcy for your future!“

To make it concrete, we are talking about the most common „problem“ of any project, initiative, organizational change or other corporate action:

Enhancing Communication & Collaboration

We demonstrated that with „little“ learning investment, we can save 70% of daily routines (one example) while increasing quality, reducing resistance… but no time for learning…

After several years I know today, that this is not a phenomenon in our organization, but very similar in most other companies.

Since beginning of this year (2019), I am doing the following test with different audiences (employees, leaders, assistants, at congresses and workshops, with CEOs, CFOs and Project Managers):

I ask them:
Do you have time blocked for learning in your calendar?“ Almost no one I asked, could show me blocked time for learning in their calendar.

Calendars don’t lie!

Isn’t it funny, that meetings, workshops, even team building, doctors appointments or picking up groceries deserve a space in your calendar, not learning.

I did not stop there and kept asking:

What if you would block 1 hour for learning every Friday – who could take-over this hour? (would you defend it?)

  • your executive board … of course
  • your boss … for sure
  • your customers … no doubt
  • your colleagues … yes

Ok, let’s reflect that – if ANYONE can take over a time blocked for learning (which you do not even have)how important is learning really?

Why does „learning“ have such low priority?

When I talk to colleagues, it feels like learning is connected with many negative experiences from their school history:

  • fear of competition
  • fear of failing
  • fear of being „not good enough“
  • fear from exams
  • negative hierarchy (teacher-student)
  • there is only one „truth“
  • there is only one way to do it right
  • one-size-fits-all methods, formats, material

People all over the world are celebrating their „conclusion“ of learning when they finally get their graduation, diploma or certificates:

School ends / educational training done: learning is over!!

Once you had your diploma, you have been „done“ for life-time. If you are an engineer… no one takes that away from you, same for a teacher, a lawyer, hairdresser, taxi-driver, manager.

In the past most job profiles included: „competences required: Office“…

As an Assistant, 600 keystrokes per minute on the typewriter back than – today handling video-conferences, managing Document Management Systems, running various mobile devices, booking everything online… quite a different profile.

As a Controller… back than, gathering/exporting data, cleaning up in Excel, optimizing in Powerpoint, distributing via eMail – today, running mobile dashboards with real-time, drill-down and predictive analytics … quite a different condition.

Not only the skills and tools needed to be successful in our job have changed dramatically – so did the needed mindset (attitude) to „survive“ todays information flood, business speed, amount of interfering frame conditions. From hierarchical command & control to transformational leadership on eye-level with emotional intelligence.

Science tells us, most jobs our kids will do, are not even „created“ yet– but this also means the todays work-generation… many todays job profiles will DIE OUT! … why is no one alarmed about that, or better – taking actions/ownership … and start learning?

Coming back to the required „Office Knowledge“ in Job profiles – this now includes about 25 tools – most with monthly updates versus 5 tools with three-year update cycles just a decade ago. Are you familiar with Teams, Stream, Forms, Delve, Planner, OneDrive…?

The world we created, get’s frequent updates… what about your skills?

Evolution of learning

In our first 15 years, education is a one-size-fits-all approach:

Setup in school has not changed in 100 years – in most areas.

Learning today is as colorful as a rainbow:

  • from 5 minute microlearning to full time camp’s
  • analog, digital, hybrid
  • self, peer, group, social, mooc
  • various methods and formats
  • holistic approach (mindset, skillset, toolset)
  • continuous setups, journeys, safaris

No excuses, please!

Most heard excuse about new software: „It is not intuitive!“

A piano has a pretty simple user interface: just white and black keys
but playing something nice, is not intuitive… that takes learning and practice

I can surely understand where this comes from: For decades, software or their user interfaces have been user-unfriendly, for sure. But todays new platforms and tools are not about the „user interface“ not being clean or easy to understand. Those new tools require a different understanding, a different attitude: „Letting go“, „Trust“, „Collaboration“, „Shareconomy“, „Real-Time“, „exponential“…

Many fail in todays new tools, because they try to copy their known behavior into the new tools…

Learning means to be open for something new, not to force something or someone to follow my experience.

By not being curious about what new things have to offer, we kill their magic and leverage effects.

Why YOU should start investing in learning

Reason No.1

It is just the most silly excuse to say „My 5 year old… can use the tablet better than me“ – sorry to be rude: shame on you!! change that, now!

Learn to ask & listen… and you will learn it too!

Reason No.2

If we do not design a future worth living, we will get one, we do not want! (Beuss) – Currently we are pushed by technology, not pulled by an attractive vision. To be able to design, we need a minimum understanding of things!

Don’t let things happen – take ownership!

it is your responsibility

Reason No.3

None of you is old enough to not care about our future!

Reason No.4

It is dis-respectful to leave today’s mess to the next generation.

No matter if it is Fridays-For-Future Climate issue or all the other pandora’s boxes the last generations have opened – at least try to collaborate, instead of being angry.

Reason No.5

You owe it to yourself: Get back to a life with self-control and the feeling of self-efficacy…

you can do it, if you start now!

How to start?

If you start your personal learning journey today, I can promise you, soon today’s feared „revolution“ will become just another step in a long term evolution – you gaining back confidence and security and fun!

There are many ways to start learning, for sure to many to list them here, but I want to inspire you for this fountain of youth:

Start Social Networking – get connected

Learning from a mentor, with a friend, together with trusted peers, time- and location independent, on eye-level is such an appreciative way of living or working. Your physical connections are great, but once you experience the power of a strong virtual network, which inspires you every day, which makes you laugh or think, you will never want to miss it.

Learning in the digital age is all about relationships!

But isn’t Social Media „evil“?

Well, no. If people tell you, there is only „bad stuff“ – ask them about their friends/connections and why they follow people writing bad stuff?

But what about all the negative new from Twitter, Facebook…? YOU decide, what you get, how often and from whom – once you learn it!

As with every other tool, there are negative and positive sides, maturity means knowing about it and being able to enjoy the advantages but not suffer from the issues.

Knives can kill, cars can kill, even your hair dryer can kill, if you do not know how to use it right.

It’s not the tool, which is bad, it’s our missing competence!


Start your Working Out Loud circle:

1 hour, 12 weeks, 5 peers towards one self-defined goal… along a simple, structured and easy to follow curriculum (without test, grades but lots of appreciation): www.workingoutloud.com

Social media is like a fountain of youth – inspiration wherever you are.

Getting started with LinkedIn:

Getting started with Social Media (LinkedIn or Twitter)

[slideshare id=102191688&doc=gettingstartedwithlinkedinbyharaldschirmer-180612193212]

Getting started with Twitter:

Link to learn the basics

and don’t forget to have fun!




Dein Feedback:

11 Antworten

  1. […] It’s our choice if transformation comes evolutionary (pulled by you) or revolutionary (pushed from outside) – read more here […]

  2. Avatar von Justin

    I like this: „Currently we are pushed by technology, not pulled by an attractive vision.“

    Very true. I like the vision of using the tech to connect to an uplifting network.

  3. Avatar von Andreas Brumby
    Andreas Brumby

    Can I book the reading time of this very good article as learning?

  4. Avatar von Steven Smith
    Steven Smith

    Hello Harald,

    I really enjoyed your article. I recently moved from a professional services firm to financial services firm. What has it me the most was the difference on how people approach learning. Your article summed up well so many challenges that people share on why learning is so challenging – starting with I don’t have time. I will be sure to share your insights with them 😉

  5. […] Vielleicht denkt ihr jetzt: Schön und gut, aber ich arbeite schon so viel, da habe ich keine Zeit zu lernen. Harald Schirmer, der bei der Continental AG für die digitale Transformation zuständig ist, hat zu …. […]

  6. Avatar von Dipl.-Ing. Mario Hauff

    Hi Harald,

    beautiful article! Very nicely done, especially for contents, relevance, brevity and graphic layout. My highlight is the piano metaphore!

    In addition to the fears that you are listing I see another two aspects in my work:

    1) At the bottom of the catchup curve : „Geez what a big step if front of me – I’ll never get there“

    2) So many choices! I just don’t know what to learn next. Will my effort be sustainable or just for the dustbin?

    There are some quite easy fixes to these mental obstacles involving activating the pre-frontal cortex to get a mature assessment. Plus, it’s about activating the limbic system with the right mindset like eg. „I bloom, I grow, I put on some beautiful, shining extra facets, I fill up my fuel tank“ (whatever is the coachees picture)

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