Three Keys to Building a Learning-Ready Organization

Many people will agree that practical experience is a great way to learn. In fact, if you’ve been around the block a time or two, the old adage “experience is

Many people will agree that practical experience is a great way to learn. In fact, if you’ve been around the block a time or two, the old adage “experience is the best teacher” is probably anchored in your mindset. But that line of thinking can cause big problems for businesses, and was best summed up by Will Rogers when he said, “The trouble with using experience as your guide is that sometimes the final exam comes first, then the lesson.”

Why troublesome? Because there is definitely a negative impact on individuals and organizations when continuing education is downplayed or, even worse, when formal training and development is completely discontinued. Let’s face it, formal training and development is often necessary. When you hire employees, it would be convenient if they would be adept at every skill the job requires or will require in the future. But that’s not realistic.

Demands change, so businesses have to adapt quickly, which means managers need to take on a growth mindset. Managers with growth mindsets believe that they and their teams can learn, change and develop new skills as needed. They focus on building a “learning-ready” organization, and they do it by focusing on three points of emphasis:

1) Individual Learning – For the organization to become smarter, individual employees need to change, grow, adapt and take charge of their learning paths. Employees should exhibit the energy, willingness and desire to learn. They absorb new information through experiences in their everyday work and through learning opportunities that expose them to new ideas, concepts and perspectives.

2) Shared Learning – About 70 percent of what we learn is gained through individual experience, while only 20 percent is information shared by others. (The remaining 10 percent occurs through formal training.)

Shared learning takes the 70 percent of what each of us learns through hard-earned individual experience and makes it available to inform the work of others in our organization. It feeds on open communication, teamwork and mutual respect. Ideas for improvement are readily shared and adopted by the organization.

Learning Systems

Both individual and shared learning are supported by learning systems that efficiently capture information and share it widely through the organization. A variety of information systems and learning resources are made available and utilized broadly.

The numbers bear out just how important corporate learning is. According to Bersin & Associates, companies with strong learning cultures are 92 percent more likely to be an agent of innovation, and from a bottom-line perspective, the Human Capital Institute says it costs 1/30th the amount of time and money to develop an employee as it does to hire from the outside.

In the long run, the only sustainable competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster than your competition. The question is: What’s your organization doing to keep up?

—This article courtesy of Mindleaders, www.mindleaders.com.

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