How to pivot to a learning organization?

Photo by Kieran Somerville / Unsplash
Under electric [digital] technology the entire business of man becomes learning and knowing...this means that all forms of employment become "paid learning", and all forms of wealth result from movement of information. – Marshall McCluhan

Digital companies, digital governments, what does a sea of ones and zeros make possible that we keep talking about how everything is now digital? Data is the new oil, data is the future, are you data-driven yet? What are your key metrics?

Photo by Matt Paul Catalano / Unsplash

There is a fine line between surfing this new wave of data and getting smashed against the rocks by it. A dizzying array of questions is bombarding us as we consider the livelihood and sustainment of all types of organizations. With the advent of digital technologies, learning is key to how we create new information that can benefit society. Even innovation in physical goods, microprocessors, driverless cars, a better steel mill, and efficient government services are all information management problems at their core. Economies of scale, efficiencies, and effectiveness of material usage, each of these require new paradigms for information management to improve.

How your organization builds collective mental models for working on particular areas of concern, depends on how your people collectively think, work together, and collectively solve problems. In short, how your organization builds a continuous learning process into its core ways of being.  Traditional teaching/learning hierarchies, or corporate training, cannot possibly keep up with the rates of change we see today. Effective and efficient communities and organizations are already creating distributed peer learning models. How can you bring this into your organization?

It starts with valuing and making time and space for both the acts of teaching others and learning new skills. Opening up space for conversations around how learning by doing can be made possible within existing organizational structures, but should be done with intentionality and care. Being frank and open about how structures today get in the way of what might be possible tomorrow.

We all have some ability to teach others, and we've all been learners before. The key to building a learning organization is to tap into these experiences and work to build continuous improvement loops within each of your people for both their abilities to teach and to continuously learn. Removing the barriers between teachers and learners, and setting an expectation that all learners are teachers and all teachers are themselves learners, is the foundation of an organization that can itself learn and navigate an ever-changing landscape with grit and poise.

Let us help you build an Organizational Mycology Teaching / Learning action plan for your organization. Over a few weeks / months, with the four components below, you'll be well on your way to embedding a culture of teaching and learning together into your organization.

  • Needs assessment – short qualitative surveys and facilitated discussions to explore where skills are needed and need scaling-out.
  • Building your culture of Teaching / Learning– using the latest in learning theory and cognitive science to improve how your organization teaches and learns together. Focusing on the skills of how learning works in human minds, and building capacity in your organization for a community of practice around skilled teaching for your organization's unique needs.
  • Skills landscape – Using needs assessments, build a clear plan for how individual learning maps to organizational learning and strategic needs and directions. Sketching out learning and growth pathways for your people.
  • Building communities of practice – Coaching and guidance of community leaders to help bring to life new communities of practice for your organization.

Jonah Duckles

Jonah Duckles

Dunedin, New Zealand