10 Disciplines of a Learning Organization

Take ten minutes to read around the internet on global business right now and you will learn one thing for sure: business is changing at an incredible rate. Successful leaders today will need to be experts in developing and guiding organizations in a landscape that is developing and moving rapidly. For most of us, that’s not really new news. It shouldn’t be a shock to any of us that organizations today need to get really good at learning.

Learning organizations are able to balance the old and the new. They are able to simultaneously value their roots, and yet not be hindered by needless tradition or bureaucracy. Give me two organizations in any industry and I’ll take the organization that values learning to win every time. So what does a learning organization look like? Here are ten disciplines learning organizations practice. You can click on each discipline bellow to read a more in-depth discussion on that particular subject. Enjoy.

REVIEW: Learning organizations review and reflect openly. They gather regularly, formally and informally, to talk about how things are going and how projects are progressing. These are candid conversations, not just another meeting. Candid and regular reflections lead to learning.

DISCUSS: Innovative and learning organizations are open to the discussion of new ideas, practices, and directions. They have official policies to support the discovery of ideas, and unofficial cultures that develop great solutions.

MEASURE: Learning organizations measure. Learning will never happen if nothing is measured. Don’t shy away from metrics, even if you are scared of what you might find.

SMALL STEPS: Learning is not always about epic innovation. Learning and advancement happen in the small steps and little adjustments. Great organizations do sweat the small stuff and make little adjustments often.

COMMUNICATE: You can gather all the information you want, but learning won’t happen across the organization unless it is communicated. Learning requires company wide communication. This often involves company newsletters, e-mails, articles, and magazines. Internal communication is key.

EDUCATE: A company learns and grows in direct proportion to its people. Learning organizations are actively engaged in developing and educating their people at all levels. This includes mentoring programs, leadership development, speaking events, retreats, and formal education reimbursement.

CANDID: Learning organizations are candid, open, and honest. That doesn’t mean brutal, it just means honest. Nothing hinders learning more than the inability to face the truth no matter what it may be. Own up to honesty and be candid.

PERFORMANCE REVIEWS: Performance reviews are valued in organizations that want to learn and develop. This includes both structured and unstructured performance reviews. Make sure everyone knows where they stand against what is expected of them.

CELEBRATE: Learning organizations understand that what gets celebrated gets repeated. Celebrate and reward learning to encourage and foster more of it.

EXECUTE: Great learning organizations effectively execute. Measuring and gathering data only creates stress and burnout without execution. If you aren’t prepared to act upon what you discover, than don’t discover. Nothing will burn people out faster than learning and uncovering all of your problems and opportunities, and then failing to execute plans around them. Measure, review, and execute – you need all three.


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3 thoughts on “10 Disciplines of a Learning Organization

  1. Greg Waddell says:

    Great summary! I’m glad to see someone promoting the Learning Organization. I am convinced of the power of these concepts, yet it seems that the Learning Organization has lost some of it’s earlier momentum. Hope your article contributes to a renewing of interest in this model. I would add one item to your list which I call “incorporation.” The idea is that you need a process for embedding new individual learning into the strategies, structures, processes, reward systems and HR policies in order for it to become ORGANIZATIONAL learning.

  2. […] 10 Disciplines of a Learning Organization Take ten minutes to read around the internet on global business right now and you will learn one thing for sure: business is changing at an incredible rate. Successful leaders today will need to be… Source: thrivedevelopmentgroup.com […]

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