Becoming a Learning Organization – 3 Steps to Take Now

Becoming a Learning Organization – 3 Steps to Take Now
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Becoming a Learning Organization to Thrive 
Peter Senge, named a “Strategist of the Century” by the Journal of Business Strategy, envisioned a learning organization as a group of people who continually enhance their capabilities to create what they want to create.  Today, it is a business imperative for all companies to enhance their capabilities to adapt, grow, and thrive.  With the rapid advancement of new technologies and the constantly changing business environment, skills must evolve with the times.

Accordingly, corporations spend over $60 billion per year and between $500 and $1,500 per corporate learner to help develop the capabilities required to perform. And research by Deloitte reveals that 80% of global managers understand the importance of learning for today’s organizations.

So What’s the Problem?

  • Skills Do not Stay Relevant
    John Seely Brown and Professor Peter Denning report that the half-life of skills is only five years.  So, half of what your employees know today will be obsolete in five years.
  • Traditional Learning Approaches Fall Short
    Traditional approaches to corporate learning — classroom training, generally given at key career inflection points — is not cutting it anymore. And in the world of COVID-19, just putting those classes on the web is not the answer; frankly, it never was.Learning needs to evolve from periodic instruction to continuous learning while doing, supplemented by coaching and a wide variety of curated content such as on-line learning, video, blogs, and books.
  • The Impact of Training is Unclear
    86% of people from our recent quarterly poll believe that their CEO would say that their current training programs do not significantly impact business performance.

Stated simply, Learning and Development needs to be more about gaining exposure to different experiences that build new skills.

3 Ways to Begin to Build a Learning Organization
Becoming a learning organization means creating the environment for people to continually learn together.  If you are a Learning & Development professional, you know there are many things you can do to build a learning organization.

  1. Establish New Leadership Behaviors
    First, and most important is to establish new leadership behaviors and an organizational culture that values personal growth opportunities. Microsoft is a perfect example of a company that has transformed itself by becoming a learning organization. CEO Satya Nadella is widely credited for turning around the organization by instilling a growth mindset in the organization when he arrived in 2014.

    People with a growth mindset embrace challenge and work hard when faced with obstacles, because they see these situations as a path to personal growth. Growth mindset individuals seek out and embrace all types of feedback as a point of learning. They are inspired by the success of others and seek out people to try to learn from.

    For people with a growth mindset, it’s exciting to take on a new challenge or learn something new.

  2. Leverage Technology
    Second, you can leverage social technology tools – like Slack – to create skill communities where employees can come together to build the capability of the organization in disciplines of growing importance to the company. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value, widespread talent shortages are keeping 59% of companies from achieving their business strategy.

    Companies need to develop their own internal strategies for developing their talent from within. It is no longer possible to rely on hiring to solve our skills gaps.

  3. Invest in Capabilities
    Third, given the need for constantly evolving skill sets, companies need to invest more in upskilling and reskilling their workforce. Rather than relying on traditional training programs the new and more effective approach is to create short-term action learning projects – or internal gig opportunities — to facilitate micro-learning opportunities for employees.

    Companies that build a learning organization have a talent strategy advantage; they will be more likely to attract, engage, and retain the top talent required to beat the competition.

The Bottom Line
Organizations need to learn more and learn faster than ever before just to keep up. Just think what could happen if your organization were made up of employees who were able to quickly create, acquire, and transfer the skills and knowledge you require to execute your people and business strategies? Now is the time to develop new leadership behaviors, leverage technology, and invest in your people’s ability to learn and adapt.

To learn more about concrete learning processes and practices to get to the next level, download The Top 5 Training Strategies and Key Mistakes to Avoid

This article was written by Edie L. Goldberg, Ph.D. Edie is a nationally recognized LSA expert in talent management and organizational effectiveness. She is co-author of the newly released book, The Inside Gig: How Sharing Talent Across Boundaries Unleashes Organizational Capacity.

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