In the words of Peter Senge, learning organizations are ”organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.”
Essentially, a Learning Organization is one that is always improving its ability to shape its future. It is a critical component of modern business survival, especially for knowledge-based, service-focused businesses. Making continual learning a way of organizational life will improve the performance of the organization as a whole.
Here are the four disciplines of a continuous learning environment and how they can be integrated into your own company:
1. Encourage Personal Mastery. Set the bar for personal mastery by encouraging and supporting people who want to develop themselves and their skills. At Rhythm Systems, one of our core vales is Keep Smart, and we status a personal KPI every week regarding our participation in learning activities like reading articles, books, watching DVDs, and attending conferences.
2. Modify Mental Models. These mental models are based on the assumptions and experiences that people have about themselves, others, and your company. Explore ways to create new mental models that serve the organization better and facilitate learning. And, determine a meeting Rhythm to continually share the outcomes. Set a regular day and time for these meetings.
3. Build a Shared Vision. Building shared vision is essential to garnering commitment. Improve your chances of success, and of hiring like-minded team members, by your willingness to involve each in the vision. Bind your team together around a shared vision, core purpose, and values.
4. Enhance Team Learning. Team learning is critical for creating a Learning Organization; the team's ability is greater than the sum of the individuals' talents. Enhance the team's training systems and learning programs in order to stimulate synergies and new idea generating. Consider sharing the learning among team members. Team members could share details and main points from books, webinars, live classes and more. Everyone should have a part in learning, and it can be included in your team meetings. An example is your controller or CFO sharing financial education – helping your team understand how decisions affect cash flow, how decisions are made for capital investment, ROI and more.
By committing to and practicing these basic tenets, you become a change catalyst in the effort to turn your workplace into a Learning Organization.