This post written by Susan Fry
The question I’m asked most frequently these days (besides, “ATM or credit card?”) is “How do I start to create a learning culture in my organization?”
I’d actually prefer to start with a different question, which is “How close is the current culture in my organization to a learning culture?”
Many organizational cultures–and maybe yours–already have some of the key characteristics of a learning culture in place. Finding out where you stand is the logical first step.
We employ a variety of tools to help organizations understand their culture because it helps makes for a smoother, faster transition from an obsolete “push/training” mode into the “pull/learning” culture.
Below, you can view a sample from one of the assessment tools we use. In the left column , you’ll see brief descriptions of key characteristics that encourage learning; on the right, you’ll see descriptions of those that block it. Beneath the sample you’ll find instructions for taking and evaluating the assessment. Take a moment to answer the questions yourself. Some of your answers are likely to be surprising.
How to use this assessment
The assessment asks respondents to rank you organization on each characteristic by writing a number in the square at the bottom of each section.
The number “1” indicates strong disagreement with the statement, while “5” indicates the strong agreement. Adding all the numbers in each column will show whether your organization is currently perceived to be a learning culture. Questions that received the lowest scores indicate areas that need the most attention.
After you’ve taken it yourself, I suggest that you distribute this assessment to a group of people within your organization. Choosing as many audit participants as possible from diverse areas and levels of responsibility will provide you with more accurate information.
The survey has an additional benefit: it will communicate that you are starting to take a hard look at how good your organization is at providing learning opportunities that enable employees to do the best job possible.
This assessment was first published in Creating a Learning Culture: Strategy, Technology and Practice (Cambridge, UK; Cambridge University Press, 2004). I’m grateful to Marcia Conner, my colleague from my Peoplesoft days and friend of many years, for recently bringing it to my attention. (Check out her blog at http://marciaconner.com/
In case you didn’t note the publication info above, let me point out that this assessment was published more than ten years ago. In Silicon Valley terms, that makes it almost ancient — and yet I constantly meet people who think the “learning culture” is a radical new concept!