Why Learning is at the Core of the InsideNGO Community


September 07, 2016

Why Learning is at the Core of the InsideNGO Community

An InsideNGO Rules & Regulations training session in Washington, DC, earlier this year.

By Tom Dente

President and CEO

Of the many attributes that characterize the essential community of InsideNGO, learning is at the core. Founded by expert practitioners, InsideNGO’s approach to learning emphasizes the practical application of training in day-to-day roles and in real-world problem solving. From a half-day workshop at an inaugural member meeting in DC 33 years ago to the beginning of international workshops in Nairobi in 1995, the significant contributions of several experts, member practitioners and thousands of participants globally have created the learning community we all value.

While the modalities of learning continue to evolve across variations of instructor-led training, virtual instructor-led training, and online self-study, InsideNGO has always centered our efforts on insights that can be shared and pragmatically put into practice. Our global learning community values the formal learning of training and self-study as well as the informal learning of practitioners helping practitioners and experts helping experts to solve problems. We are excited as we continue to work with you and our partners to make our learning and training more accessible, relevant, and responsive to the changing requirements ahead.

Why is learning at the core of InsideNGO’s efforts? In many ways learning represents the best investment in adaptation and evolution in times of change. In Ego Is The Enemy, author Ryan Holiday observes, "Every industry will be disrupted by some trend or innovation that, despite all the resources in the world, the incumbent interests will be incapable of responding to. Why is this? Why can’t businesses change and adapt? A large part of it is because they lost the ability to learn. They stopped being students. The second this happens to you, your knowledge becomes fragile."

Effective learning in any form is disruptive. It challenges existing assumptions, practices and processes. It asks questions and proposes new solutions. It may change what we do and how we do it. As members of the professional community of InsideNGO, we recognize this. Holiday also observes, “An amateur is defensive. The professional finds learning (and even, occasionally, being shown up) to be enjoyable; they like being challenged and humbled, and engage in education as an ongoing and endless process."

With the changes affecting our sector, organizations, and roles, effective learning keeps our knowledge resilient enough to address new opportunities and challenges and our mindset open to challenge and growth. This dual focus on organizational effectiveness and individual professional development—all in service to operational excellence—will continue to be a hallmark of InsideNGO’s efforts. Building on our proud shared legacy, InsideNGO will also need to embrace being challenged and humbled as we continue to work with you to address the learning needs of the future.


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