Why Only Smart Companies Will Win

Why a learning culture is critical to your

corporation’s survival in the Idea Economy

This post was written by Susan Fry, VP Creative Strategy, KnowledgeStar.

Your organization needs to be a learning culture in order to continue to succeed. That means a change from your current training culture. As the pace of change increases, the need for faster innovation and greater collaboration becomes critical. Which means performance is everything. Performance is not the same as training and learning what to do. Performance means being able to quickly find out what you need to do when and where you need to get it done. And the only way to make that happen is to develop a learning culture which supports that level of rapid and responsive performance.

Learning culture directly accounted for 46% of overall improved business performance as measured by business outcomes. Josh Bersin

Throughout the past year, during our meetings with various organizations, we kept hearing the same conversation. The discussions too often focused on the event, the program, some better learning technology, or the “cool” new tools.. The focus always seemed to be on the parts of the new learning environment in which we work, rather than seeing that environment as a whole interconnected system.

It became obvious that the conversation needed to change. There was a fundamental shift needed in the way organizations think about the way they provide learning. A change from the perception of the workplace as a training culture to one which is a learning culture. A place where employees take charge of their learning and have with immediate access to the knowledge they need any time and any place. Follow the lead of the most innovative and successful companies. Replace the emphasis on training and training technology with a focus on doing and the technology which enables people to perform.

As recently as eight years ago, transforming your organization’s culture from a teacher-led training culture to a learner-led learning culture, driven by digital technology, was a managerial preference.  Today, it is no longer an option.

The use of digital technology in the workplace is so profound, so dramatic, that it can be compared to the invention of the printing press in 1450 or Edison’s success in making electric lighting commercially viable in the 1880s. Digital technology is changing everything we know about learning. In a recent report on global human capital trends, Bersin by Deloitte advised organizations to look at the ways people learn in their organization and “Prepare for a revolution.”

With all due respect to Bersin by Deloitte, we think their timing is a bit off. Our own experience has convinced us that the revolution isn’t coming, it is here. Performance support systems, virtual classes, video conferences and more have all made inroads in individual departments and divisions of many companies to change the way employees are learning.

Yet all this digital technology has not yet significantly changed the basic way we think about learning in the vast majority of organizations. For the most part we are still pushing out training to solve problems the same way we did for the last 100 years since training was developed by the Prussian army. We were hard pressed to think of any other business that still approaches what they do today the same way it was done a century ago.

Relatively few leaders have fully grasped the enormous benefits to be gained by transitioning their training culture to a learning culture and changing the way their employees learn. This is true despite evidence showing that significant benefits immediately start accruing to organizations that successfully make the transformation.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s