Organizational Learning

Discover:

What is organizational learning?

Organizational learning is the process by which an organization improves itself over time through gaining experience and using that experience to create knowledge. The knowledge created is then transferred within the organization.

Organizational learning is important for all companies, as the creation, retention and transfer of knowledge within the organization will strengthen the organization as a whole.

When looking at the definition of organizational learning, there are three main actions to consider:

  • Conceive
  • Act
  • Reflect

An idea or product is conceived, the company creates the idea or product, then the company must reflect. It is through this reflection of both process and outcome that learning will occur. In addition to those actions, there are three key processes that occur in organizational learning:

  • Knowledge creation
  • Knowledge retention
  • Knowledge transfer

It is important that the organization ensures that the knowledge gained from this process is retained within the organization and is transferable. Knowledge retained by individuals cannot be properly retained, as individuals can leave, taking their knowledge with them. Embedded knowledge can be kept within the organization and shared with all individuals.

To define organizational learning is to understand the importance of creating a learning culture within an organization. This type of learning benefits both individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole. There are also positive intra-organizational benefits to this approach.

What is organizational learning theory?

The theory of organizational learning focuses on the creation of knowledge and the use of that knowledge within an organization.

Key aspects of organizational learning theory are that learning happens when people interact while finding and solving problems. 

Organizational learning theory stresses the importance of developing a learning culture within an organization.

According to this theory, organizations should: 

  • Develop a culture that prizes knowledge sharing
  • Take time to learn the lessons that failure can teach
  • Encourage employees of all levels to continue their education on a regular basis
  • Allow individuals and teams to challenge the status quo of the organization

Why is organizational learning important?

The importance of organizational learning is shown by the various benefits that occur in organizations that develop a learning culture:

  1. Increased employee job satisfaction
  2. Lower turnover rates
  3. Increased productivity, profits and efficiency
  4. Developing leaders at all levels
  5. Enhanced adaptability throughout the organization

When organizations dedicate time and resources to developing a learning culture and implementing organizational learning, they are more competitive.

This increased ability to react quickly to fast-changing market conditions is just one of the reasons why organizational learning is important.

An organization that embraces the lessons that can be learned from failure and studies its own processes will be an organization that contains more knowledge about best practices, and will be much more able to adapt.

By creating an environment where all employees are teachers and students, there is an equal exchange of information that allows each person to contribute in a substantial manner.