There are so many contributing factors to successful organisational learning. I’ve been thinking through what might be the top 5. Importantly to note, two are intrinsic to the individual, two are extrinsic, and only one of the five requires a specific learning intervention.
let’s take a look at these, and our role in promoting these drivers.
1. Curiosity (intrinsic)
Curiosity is what drives people to question beyond the status quo. When one is curious, then one is naturally compelled to fill the void with new knowledge and experience.
Organisationally, our role is to allow staff to be curious and to provide them the means to satisfy their curiosity. For example, removing internet restrictions that inhibit staff in their search for answers.
2. Motivation (intrinsic)
Some argue motivation can be influenced by external means (cash bonus etc). However, for the most part, the motivation to ‘do’ anything in a work environment is driven by complex internal desires.
Our role is to recognise the motivation of individuals, validate them and promote them during task allocation. For example, promote altruistic sharing tendencies by providing a platform for staff to do so.
3. Time (extrinsic)
In an every demanding, resource restricted organisational environment, time is a precious commodity. However, without the opportunity to research, experiment, share, collaborate and reflect, many of us will continue to do the same less effective task again and again.
Our role is to be advocates of time; to validate the activity of learning and talking to others. This can be done by formalising time to learn, or by giving staff skills in researching and collaborating more effectively with the time they have (refer to point 5)
4. Imperative (extrinsic)
Without a driver, many of us will not take the opportunity to experiment and change. Imperative is closely linked to motivation; what is considered an imperative to one may not be an imperative to another.
Our role is to build imperative through both organisation-wide and personal communication strategies. The role of manager is critical here, as they can express imperative that is contextual to the everyday work of the individual.
5. Learning skills (learning intervention)
We cannot assume that people know what they learn, why they learn, how they learn and when they learn. When individuals have awareness of their own learning processes and the skills required to learn effectively, then they are more likely to be productive when learning.
I’ve said it before and I’ll no doubt say it again. I believe there is a role to provide formal learning interventions to teach staff how to learn in an organisation. This includes not only how to use information and resources effectively through the organisation’s available systems, but how to synthesise information and make sound judgment.
At the start of ths piece I acknowledged organisational learning is complex. However, I think a good starting point to enabling more efficient and effective organisational learning is to analyse your current state first. Be an anthropologist at the coalfaace of where workplace decisions are made. Focus on 1 or 2 enablers of learning that make sense to the milieu you have examined. Develop strategies that focus on building just these 1 or 2 drivers. Evaluate and iterate your strategy. Then, thoughtfully move to focus on another driver. Be methodical, and remember to continue to sustain your first strategies.
I’d love to read your thoughts about this topic. Please feel free to post a comment.