No company can survive without change. Whether your business creates high-tech sensors for the Internet of Things or sells artwork in bulk to hotel chains, your employees, goals, and business model itself will need to grow and develop over time in order to stay relevant and profitable. Aversion to change plagues a great number of companies, because they become comfortable in their way of doing things. The way to avoid this is to become a learning organization.
What is a Learning Organization?
As Moya K. Mason states, learning organizations seek to create their own future and operate under the assumption that learning is an ongoing and creative process for all of the individual members of the organization as well as the organization as a whole. In her paper on the subject, Mason notes that continual improvement requires a commitment to learning, because improvement inherently requires growth and change.
Companies that place an emphasis on learning tend to improve company culture, create a more supportive and inquisitive atmosphere, and inspire loyalty by allowing their employees to think outside the box and challenge one another. Learning organizations work best when employees have the chance to learn from one another, from executives within the business, and from outside sources like graduate degree programs and conferences. In addition, learning organizations should create opportunities for executives to learn from their employees as well as from the successes and mistakes of the competition.
Turning Your Business Into a Learning Organization
Building a learning organization starts with leadership. The executives within your business need to first create opportunities for their employees to learn, whether through access to conferences and seminars or through internal mentoring programs or company lecture series. Your executives must also show their own dedication to learning by being open to feedback from their employees, encouraging new ideas at every level, and providing the necessary support and encouragement for all types of learning.
These actions should go a long way toward establishing an open and supportive learning environment, in turn improving workplace culture. If you can successfully create a culture of learning within your business, you should expect your employees to feel more trusted and autonomous while also feeling like they have more opportunities to contribute real insight and innovation to the business.
If you enjoyed this blog, we also think you’ll enjoy this video where two Harvard professors explain how learning organizations generate and act on new knowledge, staying ahead of the competition.