What is organizational learning and how can your organization benefit from it?

The ultimate goal pursued by any organization is growth. But turning a small business into a big one is never easy. Through organizational learning, organizations can develop a growth culture that works in the long run. This approach focuses on constant improvement and capability building to favor a business’s efficiency and profitability. In this article, we discuss what organizational learning is, how it can benefit your business and how to create one.

What is organizational learning?

As leaders, how do we successfully lead our company and employees through the ever-changing competitive environment we are facing? Often, growth can only be realized through constant improvement.  We must improve ourselves, our business and our workforce. But how? The answer is simple: an organization is only able to improve over time by gaining experience. This experience can be transferred within the organizational culture as knowledge. The act of creating, retaining and transferring knowledge is what we call organizational learning<. In short, organizational learning is a process through which an organization improves itself over time through gaining experience and using that experience by transferring it as knowledge. Organizations which systematically facilitate the sharing of knowledge by individuals, groups and teams experience increased efficiency, accuracy and quality, as well as higher profits.

Capability building in the organizational culture

Consider this real-world example of organizational learning: let’s say you are the owner of a new pizza shop. At first, employees may spend a good few minutes on creating one single pizza. But over time, your employees will be able to create pizzas faster and faster. The staff will learn how to work together, build on each other’s strengths, and place equipment in the most efficient locations. This will eventually lead to a reduced time necessary to perform each task, as well as lower costs of creation. Organizational learning in the pizza shop thus helps you reduce the variable costs per pizza, as the cumulative production of pizzas increases.

This is a very simplified example of organization learning, but it does show what it is truly about. It is only through experience that we can learn, grow and improve ourselves. In business, organizational learning helps to upskill people and enables new processes, but it also helps managers and employees to understand their roles better and to manage and exceed expectations. Organizational learning should be one of your core values. It helps maintain peak profitability and realizes a growth culture. By emphasizing the importance of sharing knowledge, your organizational culture becomes a thriving community,  in which capability building helps to build on strengths in the task force and change is absorbed effectively<

Realizing a growth culture

The most important aspect of organizational learning is that the process is human-centred rather than performance-based. In today’s competitive environment, employees are without a doubt an organization’s most essential asset. However, employees often report that they’re feeling overwhelmed, undersupported or even exploited because of performance-based organizations. By placing emphasis on organizational learning, you realize a growth culture which promotes a safe environment, continuous learning, manageable expectations and continuous feedback. This helps businesses thrive and often results in higher employee satisfaction, better employee experiences, more innovation and a better organizational culture.

Conclusion: benefiting from organizational learning

When leaders help their employees feel more supported and empowered through organizational learning methods, employees will tap into their intrinsic motivation, rather than extrinsic. That means that employees will find more meaning and purpose in their work. In the long run, this will result in better employee experiences  and create an organizational culture where employees feel more engaged, committed and inspired by their work. This helps your organization build a more sustainable business model that focuses on efficiency, improvement, better customer experiences and finally: growth. 

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