Most companies think that in order to become a successful learning organisation you have to have a clear aim, a hell of a lot of training and the money to invest in flashy content tools.

Simply providing options to develop is risky and at best systematic, very much like jumping off a cliff and hoping you miss the rocks, it’s probably not going to be pretty.

What does it take to become an effective learning organisation? 

A learning organisation should be skilled at acquiring, creating and transferring knowledge. It needs to be able to adapt and modify its behaviour to reflect the new insights and knowledge, learned. 

As organisations strive to better themselves, gain competitive edge or simply keep up with their market, we have outlined 5 habits that learning organisations have in common and how you can start to achieve them: 


Don’t be afraid to listen to external providers. What are other people doing? What’s new? Talk to friends at other companies, what are they doing? Could it work for you? Utilize LinkedIn, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and open your mind.

Learning organisations are not just about correcting mistakes and solving problems. They are also about crafting novel approaches. Employees should be encouraged to take risks and explore the untested and unknown.

There’s no harm in taking a look at what’s new. What have you got to lose? You never know, you might find your perfect solution.


To learn, employees cannot fear being belittled or marginalised when they disagree with peers or authority figures, ask naive questions, own up to mistakes, or present a minority viewpoint. Instead, they must be comfortable expressing their thoughts about the work at hand. When leaders demonstrate a willingness to entertain alternative points of view, employees feel emboldened to offer new ideas.

Promote dialogue, not critique. Speak to each other and learn from the knowledge in your company, by doing so you will create a culture that is more open to change and innovation, and if something isn’t working, they’ll tell you.

Learning Organisation

Being learner-led 

Learning organisations are not just not brought about simply by training individuals; it can only happen as a result of learning at the whole organisation level.

A learning organisation facilitates the learning of all of its members simultaneously. When everyone starts to take control of their own learning (rather than just taking part in the formal forced upon learning) then you will truly be a learning organisation.

Think about the needs of your learners, not just the needs of your company and your company will flourish, as the minds within it start to get creative and grow. Nourished minds means staying a step ahead of your competitors, developing new ideas faster, and sometimes just being open to thinking outside the box.


Look back on the infrastructure you’ve put in place. Is it working, do you really need it, are people using it effectively?

Supportive learning environments allow time for a pause in the action and encourage thoughtful review of the organisation’s processes. In line with learner-led and communication, it’s important to listen to organisation wide feedback about the systems you have in place. Regularly scheduling time for reflection will give you the time to consider how you are performing as a learning organisation.

Afterwhich ask yourselves the following questions, is it something that needs simply restructuring or should you change it completely; has it been successful?

Keeping it in-house 

Company knowledge is stored in-house. You are not going to become a learning organisation by buying an off the shelf, one size fits all solution. Although there are tools and solutions that can help you nurture this in-house knowledge, it’s important that these tools are compatible and can evolve with your company ethos. If not, it might not be a solution at all.

Think about capturing knowledge in-house, think about collaboration, does the system/systems you use support all of the learning organisation habits above? If the answer is no, then maybe it’s time to go elsewhere.

To understand the benefits of becoming an effective learning organisation, download your free copy of the whitepaper, Vision for Learning Organisation.   

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5 habits of an effective learning organisation