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