As you may know, I recently returned from an extremely productive trip to India. It was an incredibly inspiring, eye-opening, and at some points bewildering experience! Within hours of arrival I was being filmed for the DOOR Training and Consultancy conference, where I was to be a speaker. It was a surreal experience to be walking around the conference and see my smiling mug playing up on the walls! By the end of the trip I’d also been interviewed on the radio, which is definitely a new experience for me. I may have ‘Minor Indian celebrity’ added to my business card.

I also facilitated several Lumina Spark qualifications while I was there, and I think this was the most inspirational part of the trip. I was simply astounded by the desire to learn, shown both by the participants of the qualification and everyone I met at the conference. It was exciting and refreshing to be part of such a buoyant culture of corporate learning.
India is famed for its entrepreneurial spirit, and considering the rate its economy is expanding (even factoring in the global economic downturn), perhaps it’s not surprising that corporate professionals are interested in upskilling and business development. I was doing a little research online since my return and I read this article with interest: 

You’ll notice that the article is about three years old, and Mr Chaudhuri’s predictions tie in strongly with what I witnessed in India. At the time of writing he identifies a huge demand for upskilling in Indian business where demand far outstrips supply, and points out that – without some serious standard setting – people may end up with inferior content. He states that anyone – even someone with only a couple of years’ experience – can get into the training game, such is the need for swift organisational development.

He goes on to say that the recession might provide the necessary catalyst for development, and it appears he may have been correct. Obviously this was my first trip to India, but the fact I was there at all strikes me as indicative of a desire to uplift the standard of corporate learning in that country. Business conferences, trade associations, even the adoption of internationally recognised tools like Lumina Spark, all of these ensure that Indian professionals get the calibre of training they need and deserve.

But one thing Mr Chaudhuri doesn’t mention is what I saw during my time in India: the incredible desire and openness in regards to learning. In his article Mr Chaudhuri remarks that once someone has ‘learned’ something they are much less open to being taught. This can be challenging if what they learned was incorrect or sub-standard. As he so aptly puts it, “The problem is not with the person who does not know, it is indeed with the person who does not know he does not know.”

Normally I would totally agree with this! It’s certainly a challenge that Inspire come up against all the time in this country. But what was so refreshing about my trip to India was the absence of this attitude! People were so receptive, even business professionals who had had prior corporate training, or had used different organisational development tools.

Perhaps it’s the sense of runaway progress and expansion in Indian business that has people so open to learning. However, the Indian economy is beginning to slow, partly due to domestic factors (and also probably in the face of a renewed crisis elsewhere). So perhaps it’s a cultural attitude, although considering how magnificently diverse Indian culture is (the constitution recognises 21 “scheduled languages,” and India has the world’s largest Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Zoroastrian, and Bahá’í populations, and has the third-largest Muslim population), that’s quite a sweeping statement to make.

Whatever the reason, it really contributed to my enjoyment of the trip. I returned revitalised (actually, I returned exhausted. Once I’d had a chance to get over my jet-lag, THEN I was revitalised), and with a new big idea: how do we stimulate that desire for learning in professionals in this country?

– Steven