4 pillars for successful agile learning teams

Marianne Slotboom
Dec 16, 2021

On my strolls through Modernista Barcelona, admiring the incredible creative works Gaudi was able to construct, I am always wondering how he managed the teams towards such a high performance. They certainly had to be agile and adopt new working methods, perform with flexibility and focus, enabling them to build these great works of art.

There is no doubt that in today’s workplaces the need for teams that can work in a flexible and innovative way, is increasingly important for organizations to continue growing. Agile learning teams are key for success, meaning that team members need to be given room for developing an inquiry-based mindset and learning through discovery and experience. Some important features of collaboration will support teams in these learning processes.

Important pillars to support agile learning within teams:

Pillar 1. Focus and work smarter


‘Working hard’ is thinking and working about something in the same old way, yet expecting a different outcome. Working in old ways in a new environment is hard work, toxic and stressful. Almost everything we do now requires a new paradigm. Teams have to work extremely focused on their shared objective, eliminating wasted time, prioritise and plan. Team members ought to be well aligned towards their aim which will make priorities highly visible and makes it easy to monitor the results. A clear focus will encourage that new insights are welcomed and decisions are taken in the light of a shared ambition.

Pillar 2. Embrace differences

Teams learn best collaboratively, with people who have different insights, experiences and interests. An agile learner is a collaborative worker and awareness of (sometimes unconscious) biases is critical. We need to build self-awareness within the team in order to uncover where mostly unintentionally prejudice exists. Differences, in every aspect of human nature and culture, make learning processes so interesting and valuable. Unlock the door to biases and start celebrating differences in the team.

Pillar 3. Give room for failure


The team has to be able to try new things and new ways of doing things that are yet untested. You cannot possible design or try something completely new and get it perfect the first time, otherwise it would not be ‘new.’ This means that it is highly likely some things are going to ‘fail’ before it is right. That is not only OK, it is an essential part of the process. Team members have to take risks and challenges that will almost certainly not go to plan first time. Failure is part of the game in order to stretch the possibilities.

Pillar 4. Stimulate constructive feedback

Simply having new experiences and collaborating with diverse teams in different situations is no guarantee that we learn from them. Agile learning teams use constructive feedback as a tool to become better and learn quickly. They also spend time questioning and reflecting on their own assumptions and behaviors. How could they do things better, quicker or smarter? Feedback and self-reflection provide deep levels of insights and help us becomemore self-aware and mindful in everything we do.

These pillars will surely help you to construct great works within your company!

Marianne Slotboom
The author
Marianne Slotboom

Marianne is a strategic partner and practical developer of human behavior that helps leaders, teams and organizations become more focused and effective, elevating their value to customers. In 2015, Marianne founded Yellow Training to answer the call for more inspirational and creative leadership in the modern workplace.

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