What’s the key to success in a rapidly changing environment? Learning together.

Every leader faces uncertainty and change. That has always been true, but it seems ever more salient today. Industries like tech live on rapid change—it drives progress.

The automotive industry traditionally appeared to undergo more gradual changes. No longer. The auto industry is transforming before our eyes, with challenges arising from the erosion of globalization that undermine key operating principles like lean manufacturing. Those challenges pale by comparison to the fundamental transformation to electric vehicles. The transformation extends far beyond the technology. EVs will create entirely new business models for selling, servicing, and creating value. It will require organizational learning that touches every part of the industry.

Nissan’s Jérémie Papin notes that the uncertainty many industries face is here to stay, and successful leaders will be the ones who adapt quickly to changes and learn from the new environment. To be successful, he asks himself, “what don’t I know?” By challenging himself and those around him, he pushes the organization to seek answers to surprises—good or bad. While some leaders may smile when results beat the forecast, Jérémie argues that such positive outcomes are no different than falling short. It highlights a gap in a process or knowledge base and offers an opportunity to learn. Understanding why the organization exceeded expectations is just as valuable as diagnosing poor performance.

Organizational learning is all about teamwork—questioning each other to dig deeper and learn. In this post-COVID environment, many organizations are striving to bring people back to the office—sometimes with little reason beyond getting back to “normal.” Jérémie argues that work has changed, but bringing people together still maters—regardless of whether that time together is working or relaxing. The “together” piece is important because it nurtures the relationships that allow for effective problem-solving and learning.

To hear more from my interview with Jérémie Papin(senior vice president, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. and Chairperson, Nissan Americas), watch the video. We discuss the auto industry’s EV transformation, the erosion of globalism, and the future of work.

Leadership Notes is a blog and video series on leadership.  Through interviews with leaders from both the private and public sector, Johnson examines key leadership issues like empowerment, team development, and cultural dexterity.  The blog also addresses topics such as learning from failure, the importance of friendship, and the role leaders play in developing organizational culture.

You can access the entire library of entries on LinkedIn.

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