We are fostering self-directed learning and taking advantage of new but already ubiquitous technologies like smartphones, group messaging, web content, and social media. We’re using available data to match people likely to trust each other who want to go in the same direction. It works on the job, enhancing performance in the short-term while enforcing long-term changes that stick. It wrestles the glut of information into teachable moments.
When it works, Circles will create legions of skilled learners and foster a learning lifestyle. This is the wish for more wishes. It can have exponential impact on individuals, companies and some of our biggest social problems.
We’re Circles… part of a new movement in online training and learning
Daniel Hoffman’s previous company, M5 Networks, grew to 250 employees. He made large investments in learning and development, but in hindsight, they were also cutting against the grain. Most employer-driven learning is backward: learners must drive.
“If you want to teach people a new way of learning… give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”
– R. Buckminster Fuller
We no longer suffer from lack of access to information, or know-how. We live in a tsunami of knowledge and advice. Traditional training just doesn’t get learners engaged enough to go beyond passive participation. And these approaches don’t develop the most valued deeper skills and mindsets, like collaboration, communication, critical thinking, or creativity.
“There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”
– JK Rowling
Peer groups accomplish the kind of deep learning that turns employees into talent. They help members solve problems, save them from reinventing wheels, and amplify knowledge and networks. This is why almost 100,000 CEOs pay $5,000 – 10,000/year for groups like Young President’s Organization, Entrepreneur’s Organization, or Vistage. We are working hard to make Circles affordable and impactful.
Like workout buddies, peer groups help members overcome obstacles, stick with a program, and sustain change. Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous are famous examples. More than 25,000 Lean In Circles have sprung up in the last few years.
We learn better in circles
than in rows
When a group jells, it scratches the itch for meaningful, deep, connection. And this need is at an all-time high. David Brooks summarized two surveys that show that in 1985 we averaged three really close friends, but by 2004 that number dropped to two. Even though we are linked to more people than ever, we are increasingly isolated. Confiding in a group of peers is fulfilling even as it is worthwhile. It can connect friendship, learning, and financial earning.
“Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.”
– Ellen DeGeneres