Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Why I Make Continuous Learning a Priority

Corporate Training, General Life/Work, KAIP Academy, Learning, Training

By Judi Phelps

I spent 38 years working for a public sector health care organization and although I am retired from that role, I am now in my second career as a consultant in the industry—and I am having the time of my life. I get to bring my decades of knowledge into a new profession, while still working in the field I know so well.

I have learned throughout my career that the processes and systems we use now are not likely to last forever. To keep up with the changing landscape, I have made continuous learning a priority. In my current role, I get to learn and build additional skills that broaden my horizons and bring those skills back to clients. I continue to do value added work for clients, but in a different way based on new methods.

Of course, I wasn’t always so willing to learn something new! I remember early in my career, when computers were first being used. At that time, we did everything with paper and pencil. My supervisor wanted us have PCs in our cubicles and was looking for volunteers to be trained on how to use them. No one was willing to volunteer; people thought it would take too long to learn and would slow down the process.

Although I was initially resistant, my boss signed me up for a class and soon enough, the new way of doing something—in this case, eliminating the paper and pencil process in favor of using a computer—was better.

What I learned in this situation was that we tend to not approach things with curiosity and enthusiasm. We are afraid we won’t do as well or be as productive if we have to take time to learn something new. We assume it will be a long process to learn something new, but it’s really not. It may take a while to become an expert, but it’s not that hard to learn the basics fairly quickly.

Nowadays, I love to learn—and although I am 66-years-old, I am not planning on slowing down. Inspired in part by a “Project Management for Managers” course I took, as well as a Kaizen project I worked on, I was compelled to add another skill to my repertoire. I am planning to begin Six Sigma training. I am excited to learn more and bring what I’ve learned back into the work I am doing now.

Using the Kaizen method was a great learning experience and one that has stayed with me. We looked at processes and procedures and eliminated those parts that didn’t add value. We were able to streamline processes and make staff happier because their day-to-day tasks became easier. It taught me to look at anything and everything and see which add value and which do not.

Of course, learning and implementing new processes is not without its challenges. People don’t see that there are any problems—like me with the computers!—so the first step is getting people to stop long enough to see that there could be a different way to do things.

If I’ve learned anything in my career(s), it’s that change is inevitable. You can either accept change and learn a new skill, process, or methodology, or you can be resistant to change and miss all the fun! I am very much looking forward to my new continuous learning journey and will keep you updated as I move through the training!

About the Author: Judi Phelps has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and worked for the State of California for more than 38 years, starting as a part-time clerk-typist and ending as a Staff Manager II. Judi worked almost all of that time in various areas of the MediCal program, implementing program policies as well as working to develop policies. As a consultant, Judi currently works with clients to look for better ways to achieve the mission. Judi loves singing and scrapbooking—sometimes together!—for both the paper-craft and the time with friends aspects. Judi enjoys traveling, entertaining, and making memories (to put into scrapbooks) with her two grandsons.

2 Comments

  1. Jeston Griffith

    May 24, 2017 8:04 pm

    Thank you for the excellent read, Judy! Lifelong learning is something that many take for granted.

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