How to Create a Learning Organization [examples]

A team of six people sit at a table with beverages in an office break room.
Photo by Redd / Unsplash

Topics covered

  1. Learning
  2. Learning Organization
  3. Shared Vision
  4. Systems Thinking
  5. Knowledge Models
  6. Thinking
  7. Learning Culture
  8. The Importance of Clear Visions

The way we learn and think is deeply impacted by the culture of our environment. We know that learning is important on an individual level. But how do we learn on an organizational level?

As an entrepreneur, business, or creator, how can you support the growth of a learning organization and community?

First, it's important to understand what learning entails at its core, as well as what we mean when we refer to a learning organization.

You also need some tools: mental models, patterns of thinking—all those things that help you make sense of the world around you.

Then, you need a culture of learning: one that encourages people to ask questions and share ideas, and one that empowers them to try new things without fear of failure.

If you don't have these tools, then you won't be able to learn from your experiences as fast as possible.

1. Learning

Learning is a complex, multifaceted process. It can be as simple as learning how to tie your shoes or as complex as learning how to use an app. You can learn from others and from your experiences, but you can also learn through reflection and introspection.

Learning is often seen as a linear process. For example, you study at school, get a job, then go back to school to get another qualification, etc… however, this is not always the case.

Sometimes learning happens outside of these traditional contexts and in unexpected ways. Learning can take place without even noticing it.

For example: When you're trying out a new hobby or sport, you may not realize that what you are doing will help you in other areas of your life until later down the track when you start noticing improvements in other areas like creativity or social skills.

Learning is also an ongoing process. It isn't just about what you know, but how you think. And when you're in a learning culture, it's not just about individual knowledge; it's about your team and the organization.

You can support your team by creating a learning environment where continuous learning takes place by providing opportunities for team members to practice new skills and share their experiences with others. The more you learn, the more you'll be able to apply it in different situations.

2. Learning Organisation

By definition, a learning organization is a community or group that is self-consciously committed to the process of continuous improvement.

It has a shared vision of where it's going and works together to achieve that vision by understanding its systems and patterns of thinking.

The concept was introduced by Peter Senge in his 1990 book, The Fifth Discipline, and has since become a popular buzzword for organizations looking to improve their culture and structure.

Your learning styles are unique to you. You want to feel comfortable in your environment, to be challenged and stretched, and to be understood. Your individual learning is important; you want the ability to learn at your own pace and according to the learning style that you are most comfortable with. A learning organization takes into account the individual's needs and the learning culture that is most suitable for the entire company.

There are 6 components that contribute to the success of a learning organization:

  1. Mental models, shared vision, patterns of thinking
  2. Learning culture, learning organizations
  3. Systems thinking
  4. Team learning
  5. Knowledge sharing
  6. Knowledge transfer

So how do you get a team of people to be constantly learning, growing, and improving?

We'll show you some key ways below.

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3. Shared Vision

It starts with a shared vision. Everyone needs to know not only where they're going, but why it even matters. They need to have a clear understanding of what success looks like, so they can see if they're getting there or not.

A shared vision is a goal or purpose that everyone on your team can agree upon. It should be something that drives your business forward and provides motivation for everyone involved in its creation and maintenance. A shared vision will help your people understand why they're working together towards this goal—and what they stand to gain by doing so.

4. Systems Thinking

Finally (and perhaps most importantly), you need systems thinking: the ability to look at how all parts of an organisation work together as one system instead of separate entities. This is how you really understand how your actions affect others on your team and in other areas—and it's also how you create plans for improvement based on actual data instead of guesses.

In simpler terms, systems thinking is an approach that helps people understand how their actions affect the organization as a whole.

5. Knowledge Models

While there are many models out there that can help you understand the processes involved in creating a learning organization, it's important to keep in mind that none of them are perfect.

They all have strengths and weaknesses, and they all require modification as you put them into practice.

First knowledge model

The first model is Peters' "Tower of Babel" model. This model focuses on how people think and learn, and how they apply their thinking to situations.

It breaks down knowledge into two categories: tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge.

Tacit knowledge is your innate ability to do things like ride a bike or tie a shoe; explicit knowledge is your ability to explain what you do when you do it (or why).

Second knowledge model

A second model, Knowledge Reapplication for Enhancing Organization Learning, which has been used for decades by organisations like NASA, focuses on systems thinking: understanding how all aspects of your organization work together to achieve goals, rather than focusing on individual pieces of an organization's puzzle.

Third knowledge model

A third model focuses on shared vision and knowledge transfer. It creates a consensus around what your organization wants to achieve, then it makes sure everyone understands their role in achieving those goals.

If you're new to something and have no experience with it yet, then you need to learn the basics from someone who knows more than you do.

If you've already learned the basics but want to improve your skills even more, then you'll need someone who has already mastered those skills to teach them to you.

The best way for that person to teach others is through knowledge sharing, telling stories, and using analogies so that others can understand.

This process is broadly classified as knowledge transfer.

6. Thinking

You learn new things every day—whether it's something new about yourself or how to do something better than you did yesterday.

Learning can happen through experience or by reading books or watching videos online; sometimes it happens just by thinking about something for a while before making up your mind about what you think is true.

Some of the most important things to consider when learning are:

  1. Mental models (how you think)
  2. Shared vision (what you want to achieve)
  3. Patterns of thinking (how you solve problems)
  4. Learning culture (the way people behave at work)
  5. Learning organisations (the way companies structure their work environment)
  6. Systems thinking (how you relate to each other)
  7. Team learning (how you collaborate)
  8. Effective Knowledge Sharing (what you know)
  9. Effective Knowledge transfer (how you share what you know)
  10. Continuous learning (how you keep improving yourself)

7. Learning Culture

Learning organisations have a learning culture that encourages individuals to take responsibility for their own growth and development.

At the end of the day, the best way to ensure that you're all on the same page is to make sure that everyone understands what the page is.

Performance Tips

It's important for companies to utilize ongoing learning processes because it allows them to take advantage of opportunities that may arise unexpectedly, such as new innovations or improved productivity due to increased employee satisfaction levels.

To build a successful business, you need to have a team that is not only skilled but also capable of learning how to adapt to change.

This means encouraging your people to learn new skills, share knowledge with one another, and work together as a team.

Learning is a skill that you can develop over time. You can become more effective at learning and developing new skills by learning from your experiences and from others.

Learning at Kahana

When we talk about learning at Kahana, we're talking about making sure that our people have the skills, knowledge, and understanding to make a tangible impact across numerous initiatives.

We feel it’s important to ensure everyone understands our shared vision for how the organization works, and why what we’re doing matters.

We believe that when we know what our organization stands for, we can make better decisions and take better actions.

We want our people to be able to see how their work fits into the broader picture so they can focus on getting better results—for themselves, for their teams, and for the company overall.

It's a jungle out there, and we have to learn how to survive the best we can.

8. The Importance of Clear Visions

Having clear visions keeps people from getting distracted by the little things that come up along the way—and we all know how easy it is for those small distractions to snowball into bigger ones if they're not addressed right away.

So if we want our organization to succeed in a competitive space, we need to make sure that everyone knows their role in achieving that success.

To reiterate, this means more than just knowing what part of the organisation should be doing something—it also means understanding why it matters.

Key Takeaways

Learning is a holistic process that involves the whole person.

It is an ongoing process of acquiring and applying knowledge, skills, and attitudes to meet new situations and challenges.

Learning involves continuous personal development.

You learn from every experience you have, both positive and negative.

The more you learn, the more information you have to work with, and the better your ability to make decisions.

This means that learning is essential for your personal development, as well as organisational growth.

The most important learning you do is the learning that happens within yourself.

You become more aware of your own thoughts, feelings, and motivations as you grow older; this awareness helps you to make better choices about how you live your life.

Co-Authored by Jessica Fontaine
Kahana - Share your life's work, passion, and expertise with the world. Get income back. | Product Hunt
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