Organisational culture

Organisational learning is the process of building and sustaining paradigms, processes, routines, spaces and incentives that make collective learning the norm.

In a learning culture, it is both a goal and a means: a goal when the organisation aims at knowing more about the subject of its interventions and a means when knowledge is used to improve strategies and activities with the aim of becoming more adaptable, effective and efficient.

The fifth discipline: the art and practice of the learning organisation

Summary of Peter Senge's foundational text on converting companies into learning organisations.

Practices of successful learning networks

What makes a good learning network.

Bruce Britton's definition of a learning organisation goes further by outlining the means, motives and opportunities for learning:  

  • Means refers to the tools and processes that allow for learning to take place, such as formal monitoring, information technologies that enhance communication flow, and forms/templates/frameworks that act as useful mind maps.
  • Motives refer to the ways staff can be stimulated to seek out and share knowledge. Performance management tools that prioritise learning over results are crucial here. 
  • Opportunities refer to the spaces where learning can take place, in terms of time set aside and resources put towards learning objectives. 

In his view, all three must be present for a learning culture to exist. Examples include quarterly reviews, team learning lunches, and after-action reviews. Other tools, such as results chains and strategic reviews, support reflection on the underlying hypotheses in the programme’s theory of change.

Tools and processes support reflection and learning

Organisational learning in NGOs: creating the motive, means and opportunity

Motives, means and opportunity for organisational learning.

Britton's thinking shows how organisational learning is not the same as knowledge management. Organisational learning goes beyond the capture, storage and circulation of knowledge. It’s the interplay between the structures and processes that exist on a programme and the way these are interpreted and valued by staff. In a learning organisation, knowledge lives in the conversations that take place across teams and networks. This process of learning and un-learning is often tacit: it takes place outside of formalised knowledge management systems. 

The culture of a learning organisation embraces openness and honesty.It is common for programme to have activities, strategies and interventions that don't work. Entrepreneurs would say you learn most from your failures.

Tacit knowledge in value chain monitoring

Guidance on capturing change in your staff's tacit understanding of their roles and responsibilities.