Improvement and the learning organisation

Posted by Roxanne Chugg

An excellent organisation has the capacity to implement change, learn quickly and respond rapidly with new ways of doing business. Maximising both personal and organisational learning leads to improved efficiency and effectiveness, and increase knowledge sharing and innovation.

Without continual learning about how the organisation works, what its stakeholders expect and what the environment is demanding, organisations can only repeat past mistakes, make bigger mistakes and ultimately cease to be relevant or in some cases even exist.  The sustainable advantage of agile organisations is the ability to learn quickly and respond rapidly with new ways of doing business.  The agility is created by fostering a culture of continuous improvement. Opportunities for learning include employees’ ideas, research and development, customer input, best practice and benchmarking.  Maximising both personal and organisational learning can result in improved effectiveness and efficiency, and increased knowledge sharing and innovation.

Important concepts include:

  • Innovation and organisational learning depend upon the learning of individuals.  When harnessed as a cultural trait of an enterprise, learning culminates as a 'collective genius'
  • Continuous improvement is the foundation of sustainable results
  • The ability of an organisation to respond to its customers drives continuous improvement and delivers sustained desirable outcomes to its stakeholders
  • Learning and development is the driver of continuous improvement. There are a number of sources of potential learning for people, these include:
    • Formal education and training
    • Reflecting on life experiences, including challenging our beliefs and assumptions
    • Learning from the job itself (what works well and what doesn't) using a process of review and improvement, coaching and mentoring
  • Benchmarking - adapting good processes and approaches from other organisations into your own
  • Effective communication and information sharing within, and between the organisation and its stakeholders, is critical to individual and organisational learning.

What does continual improvement and learning mean for your organisation?