Creating a Learning Culture by Dr. Gustavo Grodnitzky

The benefits to successfully creating a learning culture are broad in range and scope.  A learning culture can better distinguish itself from its competitors, capitalize on opportunities its competitors can not, and create innovations not yet considered by other organizations in the same industry.  Below is a list of characteristics that leaders can create to ensure that their culture is both efficient and continuously improving.


1.  Encourage Creative Thinking:  Learning can be enhanced by people who “think outside the box.”  That means that people with unusual proposals or ways of thinking should be welcomed and not looked upon as troublesome or disruptive.


2.  Create Confidence through Adaptation:  Create opportunities for individual employees and teams to solve problems.  This will build their confidence and pride in the process.


3.  Encourage Experimentation:  Learning is more likely to take place in cultures where experimentation on a small scale is permitted.  This can be done by creating a sense of urgency so that people see change and innovation as a necessity.


4.  Encourage Systems Thinking:  Create an environment where employees see the culture as a system where everyone’s work affects everybody else.  This way coworkers will learn how their actions affect other elements in the organization.


5.  Create a Culture of Individual and Team Learning:  Make life-long learning a strong cultural value within the organization.  This will create a culture where each individual and team development is valued.  In this strong culture, individuals and teams are supported in the development of their full potential.


6.  Provide Incentives for Learning and Innovation:   Rewards and incentives reinforce learning and innovation.  Rewards are most successful when they are large and visible for others to notice.


Creating a learning culture through the aforementioned behaviors will reap huge returns and benefits.  In a rapidly changing business environment, organizations must be proactive and seek continuous improvement.  A learning culture is one that is able to consistently use its skills, creativity, and knowledge to effectively adapt to its changing reality.  The following are characteristics of learning culture:  


1.  Values:  Specifically, the culture will have a system to reinforce experimentation, initiative, innovation and flexibility.


2.  Top-Management Support:  Top management will clearly and visibly support experimentation, initiative, innovation, and flexibility.


3.  Information sought from all levels:   The culture will have structures and mechanisms that will support and nurture ideas generated from people at lower levels of the organization.


4.  Communication:  Knowledge and information are disseminated to anyone who needs them, and people are encouraged to apply them to their work.


5.  Resources:  Resources are committed to fostering learning at all levels.


6.  Empowerment:  Employees are empowered to resolve problems and find better ways of doing work.


7.  Performance orientation:  There is an equal emphasis on the short and long term performance of the organization.


8.  Knowledge:  There is a deep desire throughout the culture to understand how things work, how to adapt to the environment, and how to achieve organizational objectives.


9.  PEOPLE ARE NOT AFRAID TO FAIL:  Failure is seen as taking another step closer to success or an opportunity to learn to do things differently the next time, not as a personal fault or inability.



Keep cultivating your culture!


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