Get good at learning to learn

learn how to learn

The NBA Finals started yesterday. The young Oklahoma City Thunder versus the veteran Miami Heat. Who’s the favorite? The younger and inexperienced team, the Thunder, are favorite to win.

How did they get to this point? How does a young and inexperienced team become a favorite to win a series against the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade? How does a team become a contender in less than four years?

I think the clue lies in how their coach, Scott Brooks, frames failure:

“We’re not losing games, we’re learning how to win games.” – Scott Brooks, Head Coach Oklahoma City Thunder


The Thunder have been through ups and downs, and have been close to the getting to the Finals before, only to lose to more experienced teams. They’ve been getting better, and will only get better, in each of the last four seasons.

In essence, the Thunder got good at learning to learn. And because of this, they look like a team that has built an engine of sustainable success. Young team with so much potential? Oh my!

And, it all started with the above philosophy.

In the innovation game, we talk about valuing failure by failing fast. But, what we actually aim to do is get good at learning to learn. That is how sustainable innovation is had.

To get better everyday is to get better at learning to how to learn.

So, while your latest initiative didn’t go according to plan, look at it as part of a learning experience. Not THE learning experience. Learning is constant. It doesn’t end with one single event. Is is a continuous flow of events.

One more thing, being young and inexperienced is an advantage, because it means that you are open to learning more than the mature an established. The mature and established are not very good at dealing with failure, because it means getting away from what they know very well.

Kings to all of us who look at our failures as learning.

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