In the words of William Arthur Ward, “Learning is more than absorbing facts, it is acquiring knowledge.” “Teaching is more than imparting knowledge, it is inspiring change.” Cloud computing is the current nature of change in IT. As a practitioner of applying cloud technology and infrastructure to solve everyday computing challenges for our customers, it is our job to teach them how to understand and anticipate this next evolutionary phase of IT.

We solution providers and application developers call this need to adapt by many names. I’m sure we’ve all heard them … digital maturity, platform integration, cross-channel consistency. It all begins with the need to drive change from within before the customer is ever exposed to our new products. As Ward so aptly pointed out, learning is the acquisition of knowledge that enables us to inspire change.

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The world of cloud is broad and imposing. It encompasses IT, application developers, creative design professionals, data scientists, marketers and sales people in one inclusive learning culture that prepares them for the role of being the teacher. Building a loyal customer base requires gaining their trust. If you can teach them, they will trust you. If they trust you, they will buy what you’re selling.

Cloud computing is just one case for demonstrating the need for organizational learning. However, it serves as an excellent example of what it takes to create the company culture necessary to maximize the potential for this level of learning to take place for any effort of increasing complexity that the cloud represents. So, what comprises a stable, efficient learning environment in which we create our future teachers?

Systems Thinking – Your people must be able to think beyond what they see and understand when it comes to the total computing environment of the customer. This includes their corporate culture and organizational integration. For you geeks out there, it isn’t all about hardware, middleware, and software. Open your mind to everything that matters.

Expert Knowledge – Find your niche of excellence. Become knowledgeable about everything but be an expert in something. It provides a discipline of focus and motivation that all teachers need to be effective and become lifelong learners. Only the best learners make passionate teachers.

Vision and Foresight – Every nuance of knowledge gained from the customer environment must be applied and understood at the most elemental level in conjuring up the image in your mind of every input and output, how they relate to each other and how each piece fits into the bigger puzzle demanding to be solved. If you can see it in your mind, you can build it.

Shared Knowledge – It isn’t enough for one person to have vision and foresight. Each member of the team must have access to what the other knows. Opportunities will reveal themselves leading to a mutual, shared solution.

Team Learning – All of this knowledge, understanding and learning must be captured and documented in your knowledge management system. Lessons learned become teaching moments of high value. Processes that work become the syllabus for the next generation of learners and teachers that will address the next significant evolution of IT.

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I’ve read far too many reports and studies that say we are failing at implementing the cloud environment in a simple, effective way. That’s ironic since the reason the cloud computing infrastructure was created was to simplify the computing environment in a cloud where it could be made scalable for all users at a lower cost with more capability. We are missing the boat because we aren’t learning, applying and teaching in a disciplined systems thinking environment.

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