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.

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How Quest Alliance is playing the role of an ecosystem builder with Q2L

“We need to ask ourselves – are we really putting our heads together as a community to work on a problem? Or are we doing it in our own spaces?”

As the city cools off amidst a string of showers, so does the fervour that characterised this year’s Quest2Learn Summit. Weeks of relentless work had culminated in a two-day conference, inadvertently setting the standard for discourse around the future of work and learning.

In a freewheeling chat at the Bangalore International Centre, Aakash Sethi – CEO of Quest Alliance – sinks into a chair, ready to organize his thoughts and reflect on the days that passed by and what it means for the ecosystem. Excerpts:

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Lessons learnt in government relations

“Engaging with the movers and shakers of the sector varies depending on the geography and, more importantly, on the political hierarchy one is dealing with.”

It is unfortunate that the words ‘government’ and ‘relations’ taken in conjunction commonly inspire perceptions of inaccessibility and hopelessness. Navigating this diplomatic tightrope may be a skill perfected by a blend of tact and credibility, but real-time experience goes a long way too.

While ivory-towered optimism is always eclipsed by the realities on ground, I don’t think starting off with that attitude is necessarily a bad thing, as long as expectations driven by that passion is managed well. I speak from personal experience when I offer this caveat, because for all the policies that are in place to ensure good practises, the execution phase can be very challenging.

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Coalition Building & Corporate Philanthropy

Funder and nonprofit perspectives come together to tackle an issue at the heart of the development sector. What needs to be done to amplify the impact of CSR funds?

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Over the past decade, I have watched the admirable, at times controversial, but ceaseless march of corporations and philanthropic foundations to ‘do good’ in India, and to do it well. It’s been accelerated by changes to the Indian Companies Act, which mandated that 2% of the average profits of a company be invested in CSR.

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The Innovation Revolution

Only through nurturing a culture of innovation at scale can our education systems change fast enough to meet the needs of 21st Century learners. IDEX Fellow Chloe Edmundson shares how this belief brought her to Bangalore, and to Quest Alliance.

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I am a devout believer in the power of innovation. Innovation has the power to completely shift existing realities both in incremental ways and on immense scales. I strongly believe that one of the most important areas to be harnessing the power of innovation is in our education systems. Our educational systems are simply not built to support the current state of our world. Lack of access to education or using antiquated models means that we are not preparing students to flourish in our rapidly changing world. We are individually and as a planet facing overwhelming issues threatening our very existence, and I believe that the foundation of addressing these issues is through education.

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Campfire, Community and Common Purpose

What does it mean to be a learner? For Divas Vats, participating in the School for Democracy fellowship has been a lesson in the value of struggle, the importance of hope, and the need to do justice to the opportunities for learning that come our way.

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I can’t recall a better start to the year than 2018.

On December 20, my mentor Bezwada Wilson walked into the room and asked me to book the tickets for the fortnightly long workshop of the Democracy Fellowship by the School For Democracy, an initiative of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS). Over the course of three years, it brings together 52 grassroots activists from 17 states. We fellows engage with the state and work to influence systemic change and struggle for rights and entitlements.

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Beyond the Bottom Line: Making CSR Sustainable

What should we be asking ourselves to enable Corporate Social Responsibility funds to tackle complex problems in 21st Century India?

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“In a free enterprise, the community is not just another stakeholder, but is, in fact, the very purpose of its existence” — Jamsetji Tata

August 2013 turned out to be harbinger of sorts. With the President’s assent, the Companies Act 2013 came into force, mandating voluntary spirit on part of Indian business, thus giving it a dedicated space in the development ecosystem, and accelerating the shift from foreign aid to corporate resources, as a direct result of India’s economic growth. Estimates say that close to INR 15,000 – 20,000 crore will be contributed towards CSR by Indian business in a given year. But is CSR only about channelizing financial resources towards a noble cause or is there something more to it?

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