My degree is in the Humanities; I’ve trained like Rocky to mistrust doctrine and orthodoxy. As American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey put it, “knowledge can be falsified”- we can all be misled or even mislead ourselves. So learning, to me, isn’t about merely adopting the established ways in which experts think and behave. Critical analysis and testing of ideas through experience is required to truly learn. This applies to us as individual learners, and also to our organization, which values and fosters a strong internal learning culture.
To be our best, continuous learning and adaptation is required.
The thing I love most about Wiley University Services is that we have and are a learning culture. As such, we strive to analyze things constantly to ensure we’re accurately seeing our market, our customers, each other, and ourselves, and to make decisions in full awareness of that reality. For a complex organization doing sophisticated work in a fast-changing world, this is much easier said than done.
Structure, standards, and processes are required to operate effectively, and we grow attached to our norms. We can get trapped in thinking things have to be done the way we do them, and we can lose our drive to keep questioning things and experimenting. Conversely, we can grow impatient with experimentation and wish things would just stop shifting. But we know that if we want to be our best, continuous learning and adaptation is required. And, at Wiley, our ability to do that sets us apart.
Learning is a mindset and philosophy.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that people who thrive in our learning culture have a certain attitude. First, we have an eagerness to adopt other people’s perspectives, and really inhabit them. What does my customer see from where they are sitting? My colleague? My manager? What motivates them? Why do they believe what they believe? Why do they behave the way they do? The more often we put our own perspective on hold for a moment to deeply understand others’, the more we learn ourselves, and the better decisions we make.
Second, we have courage. We square up to challenges with uncertain prospects, we look at our own behavior analytically, we ask for feedback, and keep trying. It takes courage to embrace and even celebrate failures, analyze them honestly, stand tall and adapt. Innovation requires this, and we’ve seen it play out over and over again as we’ve continued to redesign ourselves over the years.
As usual, we are in the midst of a transformation at Wiley. And as I work with my colleagues to define a vision for our future and to navigate our way there, I’m repeatedly reminding myself to critically analyze norms, deeply consider the various perspectives at play, and to act boldly in facing uncertainty.
Wiley University Services strives to uphold a set of unchanging company core values that guide everything we do, for both our employees and our institutional partners. Read more about another core value, Respect for the Individual, here.