By Prof. Vicente Falconi, FALCONI’s Founding Partner
In 1997, I was traveling from Chicago to Miami and, while reading an in-flight magazine, I saw an advertisement of an event on “Education in the Third Millennium”, which would take place in Chicago. I was immediately interested and registered promptly.
The event was full of people from all parts of the world: Education Ministers of several countries, Educators in all levels of instruction, School Principals, Members of the Board of Director of many companies (mostly from Europe and the Americas), company Directors, Managers, etc. It was excellent. We learned a lot and also had a lot of fun.
At this event, people showed the most up-to-date advances in education that were taking place all around the world, from new pedagogical methods up to the utilization of technology, including high-speed internet with optical fiber cables connecting schools in different regions. We did virtual tours (through videoconferencing) of some experimental schools where the learning process is enormously different from the traditional practice. Two aspects of this event deserve to be highlighted: first, the mutual interest of educators and business managers, which shows us that companies are assuming their role in education, and second, the realization that the road towards learning in the future will be Group Problem-Solving.
When considering this topic from the business perspective, a question comes to mind: “what is a problem?” Well, a problem is an undesired result. It’s a goal which was not achieved. It’s the difference between your result and the “best-in-the-world’s” result. According to General Systems Theory, it is a dysfunction, that is, a non-accomplished function of a system. We all have and will always have problems. “What does ‘managing’ mean?” Managing is solving problems. Managing is achieving goals. Managing is eliminating undesired results. Therefore, the conclusion we come to is the following: there is no better way to learn the core matters of interest to a company than by solving your own problems. We learn a lot from managing in the right way.
In the modern vision of management, everybody in the company, without exception, must manage. Each person must always have goals to be reached. This is not only the driving power of learning, but also the source of a healthy and human environment within the organization. Problem Solving, when extended to all individuals in the organization, enables creativity to blossom across the whole company. We are witnessing, drastic improvements of business practices within the more advanced companies, with unthinkable savings, due to the engagement of the whole team.
These Problem Solving skills must be developed in all employees, by means of practical training (working together with them, one-on-one), such as those offered by FALCONI Consultants for Results, in systems of Strategic Formulation, Management by Objectives, QCC, Green Belts, Six Sigma Black Belts, Innovation Management, Systems Reliability, etc. The skills learned by solving the company’s problems are used on-the-job right after they are acquired, immediately being transformed into results. Only this new knowledge is capable of placing a company in an enviable competitive position. All other types of knowledge may be purchased by any company and therefore will not lead you to competitive differentiation.
In the modern vision of education, and this holds for business education as well, we must teach people to “learn to learn”. The ideal employee is not the one who has more accumulated knowledge (because this is ephemeral!), but the one who can solve problems. The value of a person resides in their creativity and ability to solve problems.
Creativity is not generated out of nowhere. It is inspired by a number of factors. For human creativity to blossom, there must be a continuous demand for goals to be reached (problems to be solved), a competent education in “the method” and statistical tools, basic and continuous training in the technical knowledge necessary for the process where each individual works and the ability to work in groups.
A lot has been said and written about the “Learning Organization”. The materials we have reviewed on this topic are rich in concepts and poor in methods. There is too much exhortation and too little practice. These things are easy to say, but very hard to do. At FALCONI Consultants for Results, we have been striving to advance these practices within companies. It’s not an easy task. Our model is based on the principle that all individuals must be skilled problem-solvers or goal-achievers. As such, they can all be both creative and learners. Because we need everyone to exercise management, a big investment in education and training is required, and its practice clearly leads to a drastic change in the culture of the business. We have been striving to develop our clients in this direction, and today in Brazil and other markets that we work in some companies have achieved quite an advanced stage. These companies make us feel sorry for their competitors.
The Management System model used by FALCONI Consultants for Results, which originated in the US and was later adapted in Japan, is based on the method proposed by Renée Descartes, the knowledge acquired by professors Deming and Juran, Maslow’s principles of Humanistic Psychology and the General Systems Theory of Bertalanfy, and is centered on the construction of a Management System that ensures continuous learning for life and a work environment that leads to human satisfaction.
Published on September 29, 2016, on LinkedIn Pulse.