Teach Your Organization How to Learn

In a world becoming dominated by the ability to process information, the ability to learn as an organization is crucial. Here are five ways you can create a learning organization.

• Encourage self-directed learning for employees. Don’t tell anyone what to learn, but do give permission for people to explore what they think is important. Provide resources like access to information, time off, and tuition reimbursement if possible.

• Promote cross-fertilization of ideas. Bring together members of teams from different departments, and let them share ideas and strategies. Teach people to respect different opinions and points of view so that such group meetings produce thoughtful, innovative results.

• Use open-ended language. In your meetings and discussions, ask questions that stimulate creative thought and learning without simply focusing on finding “correct” answers. If you say, “Let’s explore that further,” you’ll show everyone on your team that you consider striving for improvement more important than arriving at a single “right” answer.

• Treat mistakes as learning opportunities. Hold honest, straightforward conversations when something doesn’t work as anticipated. Look for lessons that might improve the process next time, as well as ideas for new processes that might result in an innovative product.

• Review the learning process. On a regular basis, ask team members what’s working and what isn’t. With this information, get to work on fixing what doesn’t work and enhancing what’s going well.

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