Lots of Leaders Have Adopted A Personal Philosophy of Lifelong Learning.

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But 1 Has Made It The Heart Of The Company Culture.

And, It Changed Everything.

When Satya Nadella took over as CEO at Microsoft, the company stock price had languished for a decade.

The company seemed to have been locked into a culture of (internal) competition.

Many believed its best days were behind it. ”

–Nigel Vaz, “What businesses can learn from Satya Nadella’s transformation of Microsoft,” on the VentureBeat website, May 11, 2019

Within five years, Nadella changed the culture from political and bureaucratic to Learn It All, achieving a cultural and strategic transformation that included tripling of the stock price and re-enabling the innovation and growth that the company had been known for in the 1990’s.

The new, strategically designed learning culture restored the capacity of people at Microsoft to stay ahead of the curve.

Nadella is one of many leaders in the world, including the arts, sciences, and an ever-growing span of industries who have adopted and mastered a personal philosophy of lifelong learning. In business, it’s widely known that:

  • Bill Gates reads over 50 books per year
  • Warren Buffett spends 80% of his time reading at least 500 pages a day and thinking
  • Barack Obama reads an hour each day
  • Mark Cuban invests 3 hours a day in reading

But, Nadella has taken his lifelong learning philosophy and built it out, embedding it throughout his entire organization, beginning with an email he sent on his first day, and culminating in dramatic change and improvement that benefited people and the business.

Benefits Of A Lifelong Learning Culture

A Lifelong Learning Culture strengthens the capability of people (and, therefore, businesses) to stay ahead of the curve. Five examples follow:

  • Strategically implemented, skill-gaps can be eradicated over time
  • People narrow their focus on what’s most important, improving both the work environment and business performance, short-and-long term
  • Resistance to change is reduced as people develop a habit to apply what they learn through reading to the job
  • Teamwork and collaboration dramatically rise due to sharing knowledge
  • Learning fuels a new way of thinking, one that can unleash innovations that enable an organization to gain footholds into the future

Many such benefits have been cited as having driven momentous success at Microsoft under Nadella’s leadership.

What’s Next

You may thinking, how can we better retain (and subsequently benefit from) what we read, short and long term? What are the keys to building a lifelong learning culture and executing it strategically?

We’ll continue on this path with articles to come in our theme of Staying Ahead of the Curve.

In the meantime, enjoy your reading and thinking! We’ll offer food for thought with some ideas for reflection below:

  • What once-great companies might still be leaders, had they continuously evolved a strategic lifetime learning culture?
  • How might you execute your own, personal, strategic lifetime learning philosophy?
  • Our visions of what we and our organizations need to become, ideally, need to be re-evaluated often and adjusted to meet changing needs. How often should you be re-visiting yours? Your organization’s?


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