Sunday, March 10, 2019

Five Building Blocks to Shape a Learning Organization

Learning competency differentiates high potential from mediocre, and it’s the great indicator of people's proficiency. 

With the exponential growth of data and the mixed bag of new information and outdated knowledge, digital organizations and their people must learn through their interactions with the business environment continually, infuse digital into every aspect of the business, and keep information and knowledge flow frictionlessly. High organizational learning relates to high response in recognizing and addressing system constraints, unleashing business potential, improving organizational changeability and innovation capacity. Here are five building blocks to shape a learning organization.

Growth mindset: We live in the information and knowledge economy, today’s digital professionals are hard workers, knowledge workers, and creative workers, continuous learning is not only a job requirement but also a great habit to keep our mind fresh and knowledge update. Growth is not possible unless people are willing to move out of their comfort zone, keep expanding their thinking box, gaining fresh knowledge and accumulate new experiences. With an abundance of information and knowledge is only a click away, absorbing knowledge is only the beginning of learning. The depth of understanding is based on the lenses you take, the logic you apply, the mind you shape, and the methodology you adopt. The knowledge you select becomes "part" of you.  Digital professionals with a growth mindset continue their learning cycle via learning-thinking-understanding, asking-learning-sharing, and connecting-collecting- collaborating. They continuously seek new challenges, solicit direct feedback, self-motivated and get work done resourcefully.

Business fluidity: To break down silos or overly rigid hierarchy and build a learning organization, businesses need to be in a healthy state of flow - information flow, idea flow, and mind flow, to keep up with the speed. Forward-looking organizations experiment with different types of organizational structures to enforce business alignment, enablement, learning, communication, collaboration, and harmony. You must understand the concept of the true meaning of the organizational system, experience the art and practice of a learning organization. Ideally, the digital organizational structure needs to be solid enough to “keep things in order,” but fluid enough to keep information fresh and knowledge update, streamline business changes, and interact with the expanded digital ecosystem seamlessly. From a knowledge management perspective, there is a shift from traditional, often static knowledge management approaches to techniques that involve enhancing the "flow" of knowledge within an organization to improve access and use.

Technology block: Digital learning is multidimensional, dynamic, interactive, informal, integrated, and cost-effective. Digital platforms enabled by emerging technologies, efficient apps, and tools, provide a flexible way to learn, share, communicate, and collaborate. The powerful and lightweight digital technologies bring unprecedented convenience to allow people across the businesses ecosystem to share and co-create knowledge, work collaboratively to solve tough business problems by breaking down functional silos, overly restricted organizational hierarchy and geographical borders. It also involves the use of emerging technologies and processes to improve knowledge management effectiveness with the aim of shaping a learning organization and optimizing business value that is generated.

Learning competency: Learning cycles assume that learning is a process so the learning styles can be rationalized, and at the business level, learning competency directly impacts the top line business growth and the strategic business competencies such as change and innovation. At the individual level, the knowledge life cycle is significantly shortened in the digital era, digital workforce today has to learn and relearn all the time, and then, apply those lessons to succeed in new situations. Learning competency differentiates high potential from mediocre, and it’s the great indicator of people's proficiency and long term professional competency. Knowledge is shared instead of hoarding; it also involves those tasks which enable the transfer of learning from the backend to frontend employees and vice versa. Errors or failures can then be seen as opportunities and drivers for learning and improvement - and not reasons to blame and punish. Learning, innovation, and improvement will come from all of the workforces and not just the chosen few who believe they have all the answers. Collective learning competency is a strategic imperative for the company’s long-term success.





The culture of the learning: In digital leading organizations, the division between 'working' and 'learning' is replaced by combining and integrating 'working, thinking and learning’ at the operational level. It is important to cultivate the learning culture that has awareness and understanding of the importance of learning in order to build a high-innovative and high-mature digital organization. Leaders encourage learning-doing as the iterative continuum; the majority of the employees at all levels are open to new ideas, experimenting with new ways of doing things. In a positive working environment with a culture of learning, people focus on the learning opportunities offered by assignment, rather than on the status quo that goes with them. They apply their learning, act, observe the consequences of their action, make inferences about those consequences, perform better and make continuous improvement. Building a culture of learning helps the business not only survive but also thrive, to ensure the organization knowing the tasks and knowledge required to sustain itself and create an environment and business systems to support those tasks being done and build the unique organizational competency.

Learning is a continuous process and everyone has an enormous capacity to learn. Be open to learning and sharing new knowledge. Building all these important blocks and making learning a priority helps with succession planning and knowledge transfer. A focus on learning and development reduces attrition and has a great quantitative ROI.

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