Condensed knowledge 10
- Over the past two decades the internet has reshaped our daily lives and the world of business—so it’s not surprising that it’s transforming how companies develop talent.
- Among the executives we meet, however, very little of this learning takes place in formal classes or programs, including online ones. Even as courses go virtual, executive education will struggle to keep pace if a company’s environment is constantly changing. Picking courses out of a catalog won’t provide the tools needed to adapt. We have interviewed many dozens of successful entrepreneurs and executives over the years, for our books and our podcasts, and we can’t recall any who said that an executive education class played a vital role in their success.
- The most successful leaders we know learn in a different way: by tapping into what we call network intelligence.
- Granted, it’s usually easier to build a learning network if you’re employed by a well-known firm, have a broad existing network, or have something in your background that will incline people to respond to your request.
- But it’s worth the effort, given the potential of learning via one-on-one conversation. In that setting people often offer observations they might not share in a large group, online, or in writing. And because learning via conversation is driven by your questions, the lessons are delivered at your level. It also requires that you do your homework—there’s no lurking passively in the (literal or virtual) back row.
- Here’s another instance of the power of one-on-one learning. When Brian Chesky, a true infinite learner, was scaling up Airbnb, he sought advice from people such as Warren Buffett. “If you find the right source, you don’t have to read everything,” Chesky told the class we teach at Stanford. “I’ve had to learn to seek out the experts. I wanted to learn about safety, so I went to George Tenet, the ex-head of the CIA.”
- Still, the world is full of experts who lack boldface names. “Talk with other entrepreneurs, not just famous entrepreneurs,” the Dropbox cofounder Drew Houston told Reid on the Masters of Scale podcast. “Look for people who are one year, two years, five years ahead of you. You [will] learn very different and important things.”
- Online courses can be highly useful in some cases, especially for learning a specific technical skill (such as coding) or a managerial task (such as conducting a performance review) that’s so ubiquitous that it rarely requires customization.
- But it’s smart to consider formal classes to be a source, not the source, of learning.
- Two decades ago Bill Gates wrote, “The most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competition, the best way to put distance between you and the crowd, is to do an outstanding job with information. How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.”
- This could not be truer today—but the way we’ve been socialized to think about information and knowledge is insufficient. Our formal education system treats knowledge as a fixed asset acquired during a certain phase of life. In reality, knowledge is constantly changing, and good leaders never stop acquiring and assimilating it.
- In the Networked Age, every day is exam day—full of new, unpredictable challenges. Often the best way to learn how to meet them is to talk to people who have faced similar situations. All you need to do is ask.
Category 1: A new, better world for everyone
[genioux fact extracted from HBR]
Authors of the genioux fact
Learn from People, Not Classes, Whom do you know, and what can they teach you? by Reid Hoffman, Chris Yeh, and Ben Casnocha, Harvard Business Review, From the Magazine (March–April 2019), Spotlight Series / Educating the Next Generation of Leaders.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Reid Hoffman is a cofounder of LinkedIn and a partner at the venture capital firm Greylock Partners. He is a coauthor of Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies (Currency, 2018). (Disclosure: His podcast, Masters of Scale, is produced by WaitWhat, which is currently developing projects with HBR’s parent company, Harvard Business Publishing.)
Chris Yeh is an entrepreneur, a writer, and a speaker. He is a coauthor of Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies (Currency, 2018) and The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age.
Ben Casnocha is a founder and partner at Village Global, a venture capital fund. He is also an award-winning entrepreneur and bestselling coauthor, with Reid Hoffman, of The Start-up of You (Currency, 2012). He is a frequent speaker on talent management, and is a coauthor of The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age.