To create a learning organization

To be, or not to be… able to quickly adapt to new conditions and requirements. New market players, implementation of new ERP systems or new hybrid work arrangements are just a few examples of conditions in our external and internal environments that can quickly change. For organizations, the skill to be able to adapt is vital as it is affecting organization’s ability to survive. Therefore, management teams and managers need to understand the driving forces and the assets which are most important for organizations to complete to be able to do so.

When doing such an analysis of your company, we believe that you will find that the most central asset for your organization in being able to quickly adapt is the competence of the employees. In the workplace, employee’s competence has historically developed in social meetings where we reflect, discuss and exchange thoughts and solutions. With new emerging conditions, the map gets redrawn, and employee learning can become a strategic issue which can be central to solve in order to survive and flourish in a changing world.

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Many organizations struggle with skill gaps 

In 2020, McKinsey & Company investigated how companies across various regions and industries handle skill supply and skills gap management. Not only did the result show that 87% of more than 1000 surveyed respondents are experiencing challenges with skill shortage, but also that they expect the challenge to remain over the next five years.

For organizations, skill gaps mean increasingly fierce competition in recruitment activities as well as greater pressure and demands on current employees. In this situation, upskilling and reskilling are solutions for organizations to meet the need to update, improve and acquire new knowledge.

Upskilling means updating and improving the existing knowledge that already exists within the organization, while reskilling means that employees learn and acquires completely new knowledge. With these two solutions, organizations can mitigate the risks that will follow a gap in the supply of skills in short and medium terms. However, in order to establish a sustainable and result-driven learning organization in the long term, that will not be enough.

How to create a learning organization

To work strategically, effect-oriented and to let the organizational culture be the fuel in the work there are three particularly important success factors for a learning organization.

    1. Learning as a strategic success factor.
      Creating a learning organization is a strategic success factor for organizations. This means that we need to prioritize and ensure a continuous process in order to utilize the important and valuable knowledge that exists among the employees. We can do this by 1) continuously inventorying competencies, 2) linking learning and development to our strategic roadmap and 3) integrating learning and development with our business goals and business plan.
    2. Effect retrieval is a necessity for learning
      A prerequisite for creating awareness of the desired effect of our learning efforts is to always follow-up and measure. By doing this, we ensure more certain results from our learning efforts. One example is to start each learning program with an effect retrieval plan. This plan should provide an understanding of the economic and qualitative effects that we expect the program to result in. Moreover, it may include a description of each effect, how it should be followed up and who is responsible for the measurement.
    3.  Our culture is the engine of organizational learning
      Creating a winning culture that drives the organization's learning is a prerequisite for success and for adapting the organization to external requirements, changes and renewals. To get there, you must work with the organization's values ​​and strengthen the structures that reinforce desired behaviors such as rewarding, recruiting or process compliance. Examples of key behaviors for creating a learning organization can be to encourage reflection, let employees have influence, reward experimental initiatives, and use mistakes for learning. A success factor for a culture to be an engine in organizational learning is that the management team is united in engaging and involving employees in the desire to develop.

To create a learning organization is a prerequisite for an organization to survive and prosper in a world that is constantly changing. By using and integrating these three input values, we strengthen our ability to use the organization's most significant force - the competence of our employees.

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