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When people with diverse experiences and backgrounds bring their different perspectives to the table, shared learning emerges. At this stage, many lessons are learnt and many "unlearnt"! How important is it to unlearn?
Learning continues till the end of one's life. An active learner makes a conscious effort to unlearn, give up redundant ideas in search of new ones. What is unlearning all about? "Throughout our life, we learnt from textbooks and experiences. These learnings translate into mental models. These models must be challenged, and the process of challenging such conventions is called ‘unlearning'. Unlearning is nothing but one's ability to see things from a new perspective, to challenge commonly held beliefs or actively seek out new ideas rather than accepting given assumptions," says Vidyadhar Prabhudesai, GM, LeadCap Ventures.
Judhajit Das, chief HR, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company Limited says, "Unlearning is a very important part of the learning process. Being wedded to a particular style reduces our effectiveness to operate in different contexts. Hence, adapting to change is essentially a learning process. For learning to happen, there has to be a willingness to learn, which in turn, means acceptance of the fact that one is oblivious. This is explained well in the model by Noel Burch of Gordon Training International, where he states that learning happens in stages. The first stage is unconscious incompetence, i.e. a situation one does not know that one does not know. The second stage is conscious incompetence, i.e. the stage where one knows that one does not know. For learning to happen, one has to be at a stage of conscious incompetence coupled with the desire to learn. From this stage, one moves to the stage of conscious competence."
How does unlearning contribute to training and development at workplaces? Gyan Daultani, VP, HR and resource management group, Nihilent Technologies says, "The effectiveness of any training programme is primarily judged not only by the ability of an individual to just download knowledge, but also the ability to imbibe the culture of change as the only constant. Training programmes hence must firstly concentrate on imbibing an attitudinal change that promotes ‘unlearn to learn'. Else, we would not be able to move ahead to the vision and new things wouldn't be accepted and appreciated." How can the management facilitate unlearning at the workplace? "The biggest encouragement to change is imbibing a strong culture of innovation. It is critical to ensure innovation becomes an integral part of each and every person's every day job – it can no longer be an initiative but has to be an everyday task," concludes Daultani.
- Unnati Narang