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Are you building a learning culture?

The single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organization's learning culture.” 

This claim is made by research agency Bersin by Deloitte as a result of their research over ten years into Human Resources and corporate training, with a goal of identifying which practices, processes, structures, and systems drive the greatest business impact.

Which leads us to the question, what are we doing to create a learning culture in our organizations?

The Bersin by Deloitte report goes on to highlight examples of companies which have built a learning culture which challenges existing processes, creates room for change, and encourages development. These businesses have maintained premier positions in their market, and sometimes captured markets from entrenched competitors. Also listed are examples of companies who have failed to learn and respond to changes, some of which no longer exist.

It is a powerful lesson for any one working in organizational development. Especially in a rapidly developing economy such as Cambodia, and in one of the fastest growing regions of the world. As we progress the process of AEC integration, react to changes in Europe and elsewhere, and study consumer trends in countries to which we export, we are asking ourselves, ‘what comes next?’.

In preparing our HR plans for 2017 and beyond, we are planning for not just for what skills we need to do business now, but also what we will need to grow and what we will need to adapt into to keep pace with the changes in our environment.

So what can we do to help build a learning culture in our organizations?

  1. Create a channel for feedback, and for bad news where necessary. Make people in your organization accountable for scanning for and reporting change. Sales people need to be accountable for studying their wider market. Managers need to be accountable for studying their industries and local and regional markets. Make it ok to deliver bad news where needed. If customers’ tastes and buying behaviors are changing, we need to know this as soon as possible, and it needs to be discussed openly and rationally. If new logistics or IT options are opening up, we need to know the impact of these. Build business analysis into people’s jobs and behaviors.
  1. As leaders and managers, be prepared to learn too. Admit if you don’t know something, but then seek to learn it. Be engaged in continuous reflection of your performance and behaviors, and look for learning opportunities. Demonstrate how you use opportunities to learn from others in the organization too. Between peer to peer teaching, shared information networks, coaching, mentoring, and now a multitude of massive online open courses (MOOCs) there are lots of cost effective options for making learning an everyday experience. Model the behaviors you want to inspire in your team.
  1. Delegate decision making responsibility. Does every decision come to you? Do you sign off on every action or innovation in your team? If so, this can leave your team feeling unengaged in the decision making and learning process. We learn from our decisions, and our mistakes. If you are viewed as the only person with the power to set direction and strategy, then your team may lose interest in contributing to these areas. Enable people to act and use coaching to help them learn from their choices.


As we go prepare for next year, make this a time to plan for how your organization can build a learning culture, and with it a growth culture, for 2017.

High Impact Learning Culture®:  40 Practices for and Empowered Enterpriseauthored by David Mallon, published by Bersin by Deloitte (2010)

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