In my last post, I described WHY it is increasingly important to develop learning in our organizations. Today I thought i would explain a little more about HOW it’s done. (Tip! Read my last post “We need to develop future learning now!”

This is what I think!

An effective learning organization is developed and learns from its surroundings; customers, suppliers, competitors, researchers and others on the network. The organization learns by jointly creating new knowledge and developing new abilities, products, services and working methods. It is quick to share knowledge and translate this into a useful ability amongst employees.

Now it’s not just me who has ideas about what an effective learning organization is. Several international organizations are researching and evaluating the learning in organizations. Some examples are “Corporate University Exchange”, “Towards Maturity” and “Association of Talent Developement”. The organization I think offers the most useful model is Deloitte Bersin. They have the most extensive research, have been active for the longest and have a model that is easy to embrace and follow. They assess successful learning organizations mainly according to these factors:

  • ALIGNMENT – The ability to adapt learning after the organization’s strategy and the needs of the individuals.
  • EFFECT – The ability to translate investment in to learning to effect at work and increased ability in the organization.
  • EFFICIENCY – The ability to be cost and time-efficient.

Of the research that has been going on since 2001, different abilities have been shown to contribute to an increasingly effective learning organization. For example, the organization’s learning culture, ability to develop learning activities in different formats (classrooms, eLearning, video, etc.), ability to plan and follow up, etc.

Building an effective learning organization takes time. It requires change and maturity when it comes to learning. A good tool to assess one’s own current situation and create goals for future development is Bersin’s “Learning Maturity Model”. I think it is simple and clear and we at Learntech use it diligently with our customers.

Utvecklingen mot en effektiv lärande organisation

Steps towards an effective learning organization

The maturity model is divided into a number of levels where learning can be described as follows:

Level 1: Learning unprioritised:

  • Focus on short-term needs/fire fighting”
  • Most classroom training, hands-on
  • Organization decentralized/uncoordinated
  • Informal governance of the training function
  • Few have the skill needed for learning

Level 2: (Formal) top-notch training:

  • Focus on effective formal education
  • Goal- and role-driven learning
  • Flexible learning methods
  • Clear organisation and division of responsibilities
  • Focus on governance/efficiency

Level 3: Improve performance:

  • Focus on performance at work
  • Encourage informal learning
  • Just-in-time learning
  • Integrates learning into business processes
  • Integrating learning with HR/TM

Level 4: Develop the organization’s ability:

  • Focus on developing the organization’s capabilities
  • User-generated content
  • Knowledge sharing & collaboration
  • Learning part of the organization’s strategy
  • Experts/employees responsible for creating learning activities

Developing an effective learning organization?

Developing an effective learning organization is to constantly improve in responding to the organization’s goals and the needs of individuals, ensuring that learning becomes a performance and organizational ability, and to make it increasingly cost- time efficient. At the bottom, it is abilities that the learning function needs to implement, such as the ability to use a training function.

  • Development model for developing learning activities (e.g. ADDIE).
  • Ability to measure and evaluate the participation, learning and effect of learning.
  • Ability to produce content in many different forms (classrooms, eLearning, video, simulation, etc.)
  • Connect skills and levels with learning activities.
  • amongst others.

It’s not just about working with new learning methods. Equally important is to introduce effective working methods,e.g. ADDIE for developing learning activities. The learning methods are associated with the systems and tools used, such as LMS or virtual classroom systems. Organization and governance determine how learning is adapted to the needs of the organization how the work is coordinated and effective. To make everything happen, new roles and competences in the training function are needed. Last but perhaps most important to the effect is a learning culture.

For each level of the maturity model, there are quite a few abilities the organization needs to develop. One tool we usually use is the “maturation matrix” below. It lists the most important abilities at each level. From technology to learning culture. We use the matrix when assessing the current situation within an organization and to plan and develop new abilities. (Click on the image for details)

A little carelessly, you could say that your training function/organization needs to acquire all these abilities. Of course, it’s not easy and takes many years. Although many abilities at level 1 and 2 are basic, however, it is not just to graze the points from the bottom and above. A good exercise is to develop a plan for how you want to develop learning within your organization. This can be part of annual business planning.

To know what you need to develop, you must first find out at the moment. What about the use of different learning methods? How is the learning culture at your company? What processes encourage learning? Where you are going, your desired position, then depends on what your organization strategy is but also on the trends that exist in your industry and generally with new generations of employees as well as with learning.

The gap between the desired position and the present mode provides the basis for your development plan. You need to prioritize which abilities are most important in the short term and what resources and skills you have to move forward. It determines how quickly your organization can move forward and how you set up the development plan.

Introducing new abilities usually requires you to work widely. For example, if you want to do so, you want to change the right to the right to introduce social learning & knowledge sharing and you need to acquire systems, adapt organization and roles, find new ways of working and not least change the culture around sharing knowledge.

If you want to know a little more details, I have recorded my webinar “Develop a learning organization for future demands”.

… or i’ll see you at my breakfast seminar on February 11 where I tell you more.

Posted by Johan Skoglöf

Johan är visionär och senior konsult med missionen att hjälpa företag att skapa framtidens lärande organisation. Med över 25 år i branschen och kunder som Ericsson, Volvo, Scania, SEB, Handelsbanken, HM och ICA har Johan en bred erfarenhet i hur lärande organisationer skapas.

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