Three keys to building a learning organization

Through learning we re-create ourselves, thereby extending our capacity to create. This, then, is the basic meaning of a ‘learning organisation – a body that is continually expanding its ability to create its future.

While it may seem like stating the obvious, the concept of a ‘learning organization’ is not comprehended correctly by most establishments. Learning – in contemporary usage – has come to be synonymous with ‘taking in information’. Yet, that is only distantly related to real learning.

Organizations claim to care dee­ply about learning, but their understanding is purely technical – be it scholarly learning or industrial expertise. But learning is different from knowledge. It is deeply connected to the vision one builds for oneself and before exploring the lesser-explored aspects of it, it would be wise to understand what it broadly means in this day’s context.

What does it mean to ‘learn’?
Everyone at an individual level learns everyday through their daily experiences. However, that is seldom processed as learning and that is where the ‘poverty of learning’ begins. Our day-to-day encounters throw up a wealth of learning – but that seldom shores up as insights because that approach is never taught to us.

This affects how learning is treated at an organizational level too. Since we’ve not been instructed to pull out lessons from our daily experiences, those learnings may not seep through the veins of the organization either.

One of the ways for organisations to develop that kind of an environment is to create a place where mistakes are acceptable and more importantly, where failure is seen as an asset that can evoke valuable lessons.

When companies grow, teams start playing safe, primarily due to the fear of facing rebuttal if ideas fail. But there is a lot of wisdom in learning from failure, especially when it comes to improving future performances.

Millennials are always looking for opportunities that help them evolve as they accomplish their vocational goals. But often that means evolving right out of the company

Having said that, learning need not only be borrowed from failed experiments.

What it means to ‘learn’ today and how companies can restructure their operations to align with that is a process that is made up of various disciplines, each of which converge to create learning organizations. Each of these disciplines provide a vital dimension in building organisations that can truly ‘learn’, thereby enhancing their capacity to realize their highest aspirations.

Author: thelearnerbyquest

Quest Alliance's space for reflection on the education sector

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