The concept of a “learning organization” was first popularized over two decades ago by senior lecturer at MIT, Peter Senge, in his book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Focusing on group problem solving, Senge creates a framework using the systems thinking method — a process for defining a system based on inputs, transformations, outputs, and feedback loops — that can transform businesses into learning organizations.
Put simply, a learning organization is a business, nonprofit, or educational institution that systematically facilitates employee learning and development, and continuously transforms itself by creating an environment that supports rapid on-the-job learning.
The concept of a learning organization creates an operational ecosystem where all members are continually learning, making the organization itself highly adaptable to changing conditions.
Learning organizations enjoy substantial competitive advantages, including elevated brand equity, top talent acquisition and retention, as well as accelerated innovation and agility. Conversely, the organizations that do not systematically foster a culture of learning may be constantly in jeopardy of losing market share to more quickly adaptable competitors.
For example, the once-iconic film company, Kodak, missed key opportunities in the early 2000’s as social media created new avenues for people to interact online. As the brand synonymous with sharing memories and events — so much so there was even a popular phrase, “a Kodak moment” — Kodak could have come out on top, but failed to see their chance. Instead, the company succumbed to bankruptcy in 2012 — the same month Facebook acquired a 13-employee company called Instagram for $1 billion.
Scott Anthony for the Harvard Business Review (HBR) asserts, “Companies often see the disruptive forces affecting their industry. Their failure is usually an inability to truly embrace the new business models the disruptive change opens up.”
Today, disruption is more the norm than it is the exception. And building a self-renewing learning organization is more essential to doing business than it ever has been.
While becoming and then sustaining a true learning organization has typically demanded extensive dedication, time, energy and resources in the past, technology has presented senior leaders with new tools for making what was once an insurmountable task much more attainable.
When it comes to building a highly adaptable culture of learning within your organization, fully half the battle is simply finding a means to scale the way you share knowledge. If this is an area your organization has struggled with, consider the following ways in which an enterprise video platform can help you build a sustainable learning organization.
There a is a famous saying that, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Documenting the “why” and “how” decisions were made and processes assembled — and sometimes even acknowledging failures or past challenges — is something that most organizations could do better.
While text-based documentation is often a laborious process few people actually have time for, video enables everyone within the organization to quickly document ongoing activities and reflect on past experiences, helping to prevent loads of valuable knowledge from escaping.
Learning from past experience should never be left to chance. Arm your workforce with a video platform and create a process for easily documenting key learnings from both successful and unsuccessful projects.
Curating expertise before your most knowledgeable employees leave or retire can not only bridge potential skills gaps, but also inspire a culture of learning within your organization simply by making that knowledge more widely available.
In practice, your experts already share this know-how informally in one-on-one discussions over the water cooler — ideally, those conversations can and should be recorded and preserved to be shared with everyone within a company.
A video platform can make it easy to record a demonstration, process documentation or guidelines for navigating procedures — often in a fraction of the time it would take to create written documentation. And leading video technologies also make expert knowledge instantly discoverable through advanced video search features that search not only the video metadata, but also the content within the video. A searcher can jump to the exact point in the video where the content matches their search.
In the early days of the Internet, it was said that information online was the world’s greatest library — only that all the books were scattered on the floor. The same is often true when it comes to knowledge in an organization. Knowledge is scattered, hard to find and sometimes “checked out” if an employee has left.
Searchable knowledge libraries help vital information spread quickly and efficiently throughout an organization. With a video library or corporate YouTube, all of the knowledge you capture can be shared, searched, and viewed on-demand — anytime, anywhere. Optimized video playback on both desktop and mobile devices reduces barriers to just-in-time learning.
When ideas are shared broadly, they carry maximum impact. By carefully cultivating a culture of learning over time and implementing the right technology systems to support the continual flow of knowledge throughout the organization, mature learning organizations produce an environment in which work and learning are inseparably intertwined.