Introducing How Creative Workers Learn

Happy Melly funder Alexandre Magno originates from the software and database world in Brazil, having worked as a product manager, project manager and team manager, as well as an avid agile coach and business manager. A life-long learner, always part of his job was to facilitate learning initiatives, where he discovered the his vocation to create a social impact. Alexandre believes that emergent learning and learning facilitation are the keys to creative workers’ success in this complex and fast-paced new world of work. With this three years ago he founded one of the first Happy Melly brands Learning 3.0, a group of like-minded facilitators that help creative workers evolve the way they learn.

Just this past September, with Happy Melly’s crowdfunded publishing arm Happy Melly Express, Alexandre released his first in a series of Learning 3.0 books How Creative Workers Learn. Today we talk to him to learn about the past, present and future of learning and how you can apply emergent learning to guide your professional path.

Alexandre, tell us about your book.

Over the last decade, several authors, thinkers, practitioners and organisations have been proposing new ways of work. The main reason for that is that the new millennium, through elements like globalisation and the advent of knowledge workers, has added much more complexity to our lives. Now, experts are creating new ways to deal with these changes to management, organisational design, software development and more. But a subject still missing: learning.

Even modern organisations and famous professionals are still practicing learning as we did in the centuries past, based upon rigid structure, with one expert transferring knowledge to another, from top down, in one direction.

The goal of How Creative Workers Learn is to change that! Organised in three parts:

  1.  A reflection on the role that creativity plays in the lives of us twenty-first century workers
  2. How these professionals should build their careers
  3. An exploration of different learning models that navigate between prescriptive and emergent learning, proposing Learning 3.0 as the more suitable model for those workers.

Please explain to us a major theme in your book. What is emergent learning

Emergent learning is how science and social studies refer to self-organised learning. It arises in unpredictable environments from relationships among a number of people and resources within a context in which the learners self-organise and determine to some extent both the process and the learning destinations. In emergent learning the learners are the protagonists of the learning, not receptors.

Why did you write this book?

While working in the consultancy and training field as an agile coach and culture advocate, I realized that most change management programs were collapsing, not because the people or the ideas are bad, not because the company culture is bad, and not because “people resist change,” but basically because most workers don’t know how to learn “the new” in a way appropriate for this new world of work. They maintain a “last-century” learning mindset, when learning and education remained the same.

That’s why the theme of How Creative Workers Learn is to help the twenty-first century worker learn at the same pace that our world is changing: continuously.

If learning is easier, change is easier.

I hope this book helps you become a continuous learner, finding opportunities in the world you live and work in.

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Who do you think will benefit the most from this book?

In the book I say that workers in any field can be–and should be–creative. Across the pages, I navigate through stories from doctors to programmers, from filmmakers to salespeople. This book can be valuable for all workers that need to face with the new world of work we live in.

Just last week I just received a message from a journalist of a very famous magazine in Brazil, she said “I just finished reading your book, and as a knowledge worker I’m ashamed I didn’t realize it before. My learning strategies are so so old, even working in a very modern company. I’m changing it right now!” So, even though I didn’t write the book directly for a journalist, the book was very helpful for this reader. I hope it can be useful for all kinds of workers.

In the book you tell the story of a Mr. Waldir who transforms his business by adding a creative approach to selling fish. How do you apply the experience of a fish monger to all creative workers?

Each of us can get more out of talking to true learning practitioners than simply listening to keynotes or consultants. I built my book around these real workers, real people, real life stories, Mr. Waldir is one of those that inspired me a lot.

I see that in today’s business world, people are wary when facing new conditions. They want to know:

  • Why was there a change?
  • Why aren’t the customers coming anymore?
  • Why isn’t the economy good?

But facing these new conditions continuously is the reality for the workers in the book and in our world today. Like the workers I interviewed, when you are creative in the way to learn to solve your problems, you find happiness in that.

As Mr. Waldir, the fishmonger, I think workers should start to learn through change, be creative in response to it, and enjoy it the process. This is the definition of resilience. I’ve learned much more about resilience talking to real workers than I ever did in an MBA class.

How can a creative worker use the ideas in your book to improve their career?

I think there are three main lessons explained in the book that can improve your career:

  1. Realize that you are a creative worker. Creativity is not a plus anymore, it’s expected. Some workers think that they’re not creative because they don’t draw or play or just because their jobs are a “serious thing” with no room for creativity. Telling some stories and connecting it with some great concepts, I show that even a lawyer or a cardiologist can be creative, teach them how, and lay out the benefits that they can get by doing that.
  2. Create learning communities. Most creative workers that find success in this complex business world are involved with learning networks. Sharing as a superpower that can help you learn better and faster. Taking advantage of this, you create and nurture these communities, building trust and collaboration between members. This book explains what learning communities are and how to find and participate in one.
  3. Use Learning 3.0 as a learning system. Emergent learning is proven as right for creative workers. But how can you put it in practice? This is where Learning 3.0 really shines as a system of learning. You can use ready-to-use tools like the Learning Canvas and the Learning Mosaic, or create your own learning tools and practices by using the system proposed in the book.

Give us an example of how applying the ideas in the book helped you write the book itself.

One of the things that I contend in the book is that there’s no such thing as “one size fits” all when you’re talking about learning. You have to respect who you are and learn in the way you are, creating your own formulas.

The experience of writing a book was a big big challenge for me. I’m not a writer, so I had to learn how to write a book. I started reading several books on how to be a writer and collecting tons of advices by writers. I tried to practice what I learned from that. #EpicFail. It’s just didn’t work for me. The advice didn’t consider who I am, how I work, what are my qualities and faults.

So I decided to create my own way of writing. I created a framework combining deadline, pace and place, gamified the job with some levels and benefits, and nourished some intrinsic motivators that I know affect me. Considering who I know I am, I can guarantee that the only way to get this book done was to eat my own dog food by creating my own Learning 3.0 emergent learning experience.

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What are the top three reasons creative workers should read this book?

  1. The book is very empathetic. As you read, you’ll find yourself easily in the shoes of the characters, realizing how their experiences reflect in your own professional lives and where it can help affect your decisions today. This experience helps you define your next steps.
  2. You will understand why the so-called best practices of learning are not suitable for today’s market. You’ll begin to recognize that emergent learning, the core of Learning 3.0, is the new order for how creative workers learn. Not only that, you’ll understand how to put these emergent learning techniques into practice from the moment you close the book.
  3. For those that usually provide learning experiences, acting as teachers, trainers, facilitators, consultants or simply helpful teammates, this book particularly can inspire you to reinvent the experiences.

You will realize that sharing is the new teaching.

Are you ready to introduce Learning 3.0 in your creative professional life? Get one a copy of Learning 3.0’s How Creative Workers Learn today!

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This article is written by Jennifer Riggins on November 13th 2015.

You can connect with Jennifer Riggins in Google+.