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What Do Great Continuous Learning Organizations Have in Common?

Posted by Maggie Millard

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Jan 29, 2015 3:31:00 PM

LearningIf you feel like the pace of change in business is accelerating like a rocket ship, you're right. In fact, it has been estimated that more information has been produced in the last 30 years than was produced in the previous 5,000. Changing technology, customer preferences, regulations, and competitive landscapes make it necessary for today’s employees to gain new knowledge, skills, and outlooks more rapidly than ever before. This means that business leaders who are successful at instilling and supporting a culture of continuous learning have an advantage. Here are six traits that they have in common.

1) Open Communication

Almost by definition, learning can’t occur without communication. Companies that provide support and encouragement for communication between all parts and levels of the organization are able to benefit from collective wisdom and more quickly identify gaps in knowledge or skills.

2) Cross-Functional Collaboration

Having less-experienced employees collaborate with subject matter experts is a great learning opportunity for both. The expert potentially gains a new prospective and novel ideas, while the novice has the opportunity to observe and ask questions.


3) Repository for Tribal Knowledge

Continuous learning doesn’t mean continuously learning the same thing over and over again. In order to build on knowledge, successful organizations document what they already have learned. Capturing the details about past improvement activities, for example, helps teams internalize that experience, repeat what works, and repair what doesn’t.

4) Engaged Employees

Learning requires effort and a certain degree of emotional investment. Employees who are engaged and feel connected to the organization are far more likely to accept the challenge of trying something new.

5) Structured Feedback

Learning often involves a process of trial and error. Feedback from supervisors and executives is essential for amplifying the activities and behaviors that are leading to positive change and minimizing those that are not.

6) A Broad Definition of Learning

Not all learning includes formal classroom training. In fact, only 5 to 15% of what we learn at work comes from formal training. Most of us learn more from the break room than the classroom. Successful learning organizations realize this and make an effort to improve the opportunities for employees to learn by doing, observing and talking to each other.

Continuous learning is essential for modern businesses. By replicating some of the habits of successful organizations, you can improve performance and build a better future for your business and your employees. 

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Topics: Collaboration

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