The Four Barriers To Effective Learning

According to McKinsey & Co., there are four important barriers to all interpersonal interactions — including the learning function — that all organizations face. While individual organization will encounter some obstacles more than others, McKinsey suggests that the approaches to overcoming them are widely applicable.

The four most barriers

1) Physical barriers — geographic distance and differences in time zones — often go hand-in-hand with technical barriers because of a lack of effective tools for locating the right people. One remedy is to create “communities of practice.” By supplementing electronic tools with video conferences and occasional in-person meetings, communities can bridge physical distances and build relationships.

2) Social or cultural barriers include rigid hierarchy or ineffective incentives that don’t spur the right people to engage. To avoid these problems, organizations should include knowledge sharing in performance reviews and ensure that team leaders clearly communicate acceptable response times for information requests.

3) Employees who face contextual barriers struggle to share and translate knowledge obtained from colleagues in different fields.

To overcome these, organizations can rotate employees across teams and divisions or create forums where specialists in different areas can learn about one another’s work.

4) The barrier of time: If valuable interactions are falling victim to time constraints, executives can use job roles and responsibilities to help identify the employees that knowledge workers should be interacting with and on what topics. In some cases, organizations may need to clarify decision rights and redefine roles to reduce the interaction burden on some employees while increasing it on others.

—Source: McKinsey Quarterly

According to McKinsey & Co., there are four important barriers to all interpersonal interactions — including the learning function — that all organizations face. While individual organization will encounter some obstacles more than others, McKinsey suggests that the approaches to overcoming them are widely applicable.

The four most barriers

1) Physical barriers — geographic distance and differences in time zones — often go hand-in-hand with technical barriers because of a lack of effective tools for locating the right people. One remedy is to create “communities of practice.” By supplementing electronic tools with video conferences and occasional in-person meetings, communities can bridge physical distances and build relationships.

2) Social or cultural barriers include rigid hierarchy or ineffective incentives that don’t spur the right people to engage. To avoid these problems, organizations should include knowledge sharing in performance reviews and ensure that team leaders clearly communicate acceptable response times for information requests.

3) Employees who face contextual barriers struggle to share and translate knowledge obtained from colleagues in different fields.

To overcome these, organizations can rotate employees across teams and divisions or create forums where specialists in different areas can learn about one another’s work.

4) The barrier of time: If valuable interactions are falling victim to time constraints, executives can use job roles and responsibilities to help identify the employees that knowledge workers should be interacting with and on what topics. In some cases, organizations may need to clarify decision rights and redefine roles to reduce the interaction burden on some employees while increasing it on others.

—Source: McKinsey Quarterly

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