A learning organisation fit for future demands

Why develop the learning organization of the future?

Robot300We can read about skill shortage in Sweden on regular basis. 7 out of 10 companies have trouble finding staff with the right skills.  These challenges are increasing and we have not yet seen the effects of AI and digitalization. According to several studies, 30-40% of skills in current jobs will change. This means that we all need to learn new things at an increasing pace in order to stay relevant in the job market.

In order to meet the challenges, new expectations are placed on those of us who work with learning and development. According to CEB, 70% of the employees believe that the company’s offers for learning and development are not enough. Our way of learning has also changed dramatically alongside the development of new technologies. We want to be able to learn just when we need it, connected to/at work and from our professional network.

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What is a successful learning organization?

A successful learning organization that can adapt to the demands of the future is characterized by:

  1. A culture that encourages learning.
  2. 1. Employees who want to, have the opportunity to and have the ability to learn continuously.
  3. Managers who enable employee growth and development.
  4. Learning built into the work.
  5. A digital learning ecosystem.
  6. A Learning & Development function that enables continuous learning.

There is a lot of research regarding how a successful learning organization is built. The most influential one is Deloitte Bersin’s research and models on “High Impact Learning Organizations”. It is a great tool for planning the steps you need to take and also describes the step-by-step maturation journey an organization makes, well. According to their research, companies at the highest level are 3 times more profitable than the average company.


Level 1: Formal learning The organization focuses on formal learning in the form of courses and programmes. You have an LMS with a course catalogue, but does not encourage the employees’ learning. The Learning Department has the initiative and focuses its resources and processes towards effectively developing, administering and delivering courses.
Level 2: Individual- and situation adapted learning More energy is put into the employee’s experience of learning. Design Thinking is used e.g. to better understand the employee’s needs and experience and facilitate personalised learning. Digital learning technologies, e.g. microlearning, MOOC and AI are used to create flexibility for where, when and how the employee learns. The learning department will have new roles in the form of curators, technical architects, etc.
Level 3: Continuous learning Learning takes place continuously through the employee’s own initiative. Culture encourage learning of work experience, collaboration, knowledge sharing and a daily search for knowledge, e.g. through a Learning Experience Platform. The focus is on performance rather than learning and the business has the initiative in securing employees’ abilities. The task of the training function is to enable continuous learning by influencing culture, providing technology, content, working methods and support to the employee and the manager.
Level 4: Develop your organization’s capabilities Learning is integrated into the work. Tasks and systems are designed for experimentation, feedback and integrated learning. The employee has the ownership to drive their learning through experience, collaboration and continuous learning. Innovation and continuous learning are part of the organisation’s strategy. The educational function acts as experts to encourage the activities of culture, design of work, employee experiences, digital integration of learning at work, etc.

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How do you develop a future learning organization?

Developing an effective learning organization is about developing a number of abilities within the L&D function and in the organization as a whole. It is not just a question of adding new learning methods, such as microlearning, augmented reality and social learning.

Learning Framework 800

Developing a successful learning organization starts with developing the learning strategy in the organization. Culture needs to encourage the strategy, a “growth mindset” and continuous learning. Responsibility for learning needs to be shifted from the learning department, not only to employees and managers, but to the business responsible for designing jobs, systems and tools that encourage learning.

A digital learning echo system that encourage the organization’s solutions for learning, performance and development needs to be established. This requires many new roles and working methods within the L&D department. Examples are curation, experience design and performance consulting.

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