“You learn something new every day,” is a saying that applies to many facets of life, but firms can especially learn from this. Fostering continuous learning throughout a firm helps you get more out of employees. In an article for Scrum Alliance, Roopak Jain explains the five characteristics of learning organizations:
- Systems thinking
- Personal mastery
- Mental models
- Shared vision
- Team learning
Agile Upgrades Organized Learning
Systems thinking is essentially thinking of things holistically, instead of individually. You approach it as a series of interconnected parts that are a part of a greater picture. The personal mastery characteristic is your own drive to improve and learn more skills to further your own career. Agile teams are already tuned in to this philosophy, with retrospectives and the like.
Mental models, which are abstractions and assumptions held by an organization or an individual, directly shape a workplace’s culture. These models must be acknowledged and challenged regularly if the culture is to avoid stagnation. Shared vision meanwhile is when an entire organization has an identity that it strives towards and helps shape the organization’s overall goals. Agile teams are committed at this level on delivering business value to the organization as a whole through commitment and regular communication with the business.
Jain has this to say about the final characteristic, team learning:
The accumulation of individual leanings constitutes team learning. To facilitate team learning, a learning organization needs openness and shared understanding. The Agile team acts as a good building block for this discipline, as Agile principles promote team performance instead of individual performance. Furthermore, Agile teams also perform team retrospectives instead of individual performance reviews. Agile teams in their construct imbibe values, such as trust, openness, and courage, that encourage team learning
For additional elaboration, you can view the original article here: https://www.scrumalliance.org/community/articles/2017/october/the-learning-organization