Learning to learn (3/3)
This launching series discusses organisational learning in development organisations and the approach of STRHIVE. To recap: in part 1 and part 2, the value of learning and knowledge management was discussed. Additionally, the key concepts of organisations learning were introduced. For a refresher, check out part 2 of the series. In this last part, the connection from the theory to practice is made: How does STRHIVE put learning into action in organisations?
Practise what you preach: putting learning into practice
STRHIVE’s mission is to enable development organisations to create more impact by building on their knowledge through strategic organisational learning. The aim is that organisations can leverage their existing knowledge, build their intellectual capital and continuously learn from it. We want to empower organisations to become strategic hives: to collaboratively learn for collective knowledge.
STRHIVE’s Learning Framework
To put this mission into practice, we build Learning Roadmaps for organisations. The goal of the Learning Roadmaps is to guide organisations from their current status quo of learning towards becoming learning organisations. The STRHIVE Learning Roadmap consist of three building blocks:
To start enhancing learning practices in an organisation, it is important to first understand how learning is currently taking place and how knowledge flows within an organisation. Therefore, (1) State of Learning assesses the current status quo regarding learning in an organisation. It identifies learning needs and goals and creates an overview of knowledge flows and knowledge sharing practices. Based on the State of Learning a learning profile is created which outlines where an organisation currently stands and what is needed to enable it to learn better.
The second building block towards a learning organisation is managing the organisation’s knowledge. In the second step (2) Knowledge Management, the existing knowledge within an organisation is mapped. What knowledge exists within the organisation? Where is knowledge currently stored? Who holds key knowledge? Where do knowledge gaps exist? And how is knowledge shared? Based on this mapping and the learning needs and goals identified in the State of Learning, strategies for enhancing knowledge management are developed. These strategies aim to achieve that the organisation’s knowledge is gathered systematically, centrally stored and accessible to everyone in the organisation.
The last element for enhanced organisational learning is the third building block (3) Learning Framework. This last step focuses on how the knowledge within the organisations can be actively shared and the lessons from past performance can be channelled into strategic decision making. How a Learning Framework looks like specifically is highly dependent on an organisation’s learning needs and goals. Generally, Learning Frameworks encompass a number of layers and elements:
- Learning Framework include the creation of tailor-made knowledge sharing opportunities in the organisation,
- they integrate active learning and reflection moments into existing work practices,
- they establish a system for collaboration
- and together, each element forms a part of building a learning culture within an organisation.
To achieve learning opportunities and ingrain them in organisational practices, the Learning Framework draws on practices such as Peer-Assists and other knowledge sharing formats. It aims to tie learning practices into the strategy and vision of the organisation and create synergies with monitoring, evaluation and reporting structures. Hence, the aim is to avoid any duplication or additional work. Rather, the Learning Framework aims to make learning an intuitive, integrated part of every-day work.
Tips & tricks to make learning more intentional
If you want to enhance the learning practices and learning culture in your organisation, you can start by thinking about the following steps:
- A first step is to think about what knowledge is there already and how can it be organised systematically?
- In a second step, you think about how this knowledge can be made accessible to everyone in the organisation. The accessibility should be set up in a way that everyone can easily find and apply relevant information extracted from the knowledge repertoire.
- By laying this groundwork, everyone in the organisation can start building on the existing knowledge by actively using it in work processes and decision making and expanding on it, instead of duplicating it. If these processes are in place, you have set the basic framework that enables your organisation to start learning. However, it is good to keep in mind that building a learning organisation takes practice.
To take it further and actively start implementing learning practices, there a number of elements to keep in mind. While intertwined, it is important to give each element sufficient attention. Once this groundwork is in place, you are well on your way towards sustained learning.
- One of the most important steps is to create buy-in from the whole organisation. The value that knowledge management and learning can contribute to the work of an organisation needs to be communicated and internalised across the whole organisation. If this step is skipped, the risk is that knowledge and learning practices are dismissed as mere additional reporting or administrative burden.
- Having the support of the organisation’s leadership is crucial. Leadership can support the organisational learning process by emphasising its importance and providing the space for learning. Leadership support of organisational learning translates into the organisation’s commitment to the learning process.
- Connected to the support of the leadership, an organisational culture that values learning and has an open error culture should be created. By rewarding learning and actively avoiding a blame-culture, everyone in the organisation gains confidence of engaging and being open to learning.
- A clear roadmap for knowledge management and learning needs to be developed and set-up. A clear roadmap comes with timelines and fixed points for reflection. By setting fixed times for learning, you minimize the risk of skipping it in favour of other tasks.
Ready to take organisational learning further in your organisation or curious to know more about STRHIVE’s approach?
Get in touch and let’s discuss how organisational learning can work for your organisation.