Creating a learning culture
This edition is all about innovation, and as much as I am a big technology fan, I’m going to leave the techy stuff to the other contributors. I want to talk about creating the culture of learning and innovation in your business. This culture well help organisations unlock ideas to drive forward the business and also help empower and motivate team members.
In their 2008 Harvard Business Review Article, “Is Yours a Learning Organization?”, David A. Garvin, Amy C. Edmondson, and Francesca Gino, explore the three building blocks of becoming a learning organisation as follows;
1: A supportive learning environment.
An environment that supports learning has four distinguishing characteristics;
i. Psychological safety. Team members need to be safe to ask questions, try things out and make mistakes, without fear of reprisal
ii. Appreciation of differences. Recognising the value of alternative views increases energy and motivation, sparks fresh thinking, and prevents lethargy and drift.
i. Openness to new ideas. Learning is not simply about correcting mistakes and solving problems. It is also about crafting novel approaches. Employees should be encouraged to take risks and explore the untested and unknown.
ii. Time for reflection. Supportive learning environments allow time for a pause in the action and encourage thoughtful review of the organisation’s processes.
2: Concrete learning processes and practices.
A learning organization is not cultivated effortlessly. Learning processes involve the generation, collection, interpretation, and dissemination of information. They include experimentation to develop and test new products and services; intelligence gathering to keep track of competitive, customer, and technological trends; disciplined analysis and interpretation to identify and solve problems; and education and training to develop both new and established employees.
3: Leadership that reinforces learning.Organisational learning is strongly influenced by the behaviour of leaders. When leaders actively question and listen to employees—and thereby prompt dialogue and debate—people in the organisation feel encouraged to learn. When leaders demonstrate a willingness to entertain alternative points of view, employees feel emboldened to offer new ideas.
The three building blocks of organisational learning reinforce one another and, to some degree, overlap. Just as leadership behaviours help create and sustain supportive learning environments, such environments make it easier for managers and employees to execute concrete learning processes and practices smoothly and efficiently. They foster learning and to cultivate that behaviour in others.
To read the article in full, please visit www.hbr.org