The Learning Mosaic

Ricardo Semler shot to fame in the 1980s after inheriting his father’s Brazilian engineering company, Semco Partners, aged just 21. He immediately made waves, axing huge numbers of management roles and installing a self-managed system of operating. His key insight was how powerful agency, autonomy and a sense of mastery could be in engaging his team and enabling Semco to thrive.

Semler went on to apply his insights to education, creating the Lumiar School with the aim of finding a new way for students to direct their own learning while still gaining recognized accreditations and qualifications. Lumiar empowers students to plot their own journeys through the subject matter of the curriculum. Subjects like physics, maths and chemistry still exist; the change is that students choose where to start. A nine-year-old might opt to take maths, or delay it until later. Thus, classes often bring together students across a range of ages. It has proven a successful model, both academically and socially, helping students to be more mature.

At the heart of students’ journeys is the Learning Mosaic – a map of 600 study areas in the case of those schoolchildren. It is an idea ripe for adaptation for the corporate learning and development (L&D) world. Indeed, we have created our own Mosaic in my company. It’s coded into four main domains relating to our areas of focus: HR, organizational development, and L&D skills and practices; business strategy skills and practices; sustainable business and corporate practices; and next stage organization evolution skills. We present it in a simple, graphical way, with each piece of the mosaic representing particular skills. Team members can plot a pathway through them, see where they could share expertise with colleagues, and identify areas to seek further development.

Some of the inertia around corporate L&D stems from people feeling restricted about what’s on offer. A wide-open view of the corporate capabilities needed for the future could unlock exploration and versatility for people in their work. The Learning Mosaic provides just that view.

Perry Timms is founder and chief energy officer of PTHR, a consultancy aiming to create better business for a better world. He is a TEDx speaker, top-selling author, and number one on HR Magazine’s 2022 Most Influential Thinkers list.