IT Best PracticesLearning Organizations

3 Ways to Build a High-Performance Learning Organization

Business is all about agility–you need new ideas now, and you need to implement them yesterday. But when it comes to building a learning organization, where employees are empowered to keep self-improving, you actually need to learn to slow down. In an article for CMS Wire, Edward D. Hess explains why “speed is not a virtue.”

The 3 Core Elements of Learning

  1. The Right People
  2. The Right Environment
  3. The Right Processes

It all starts with the hiring process. Are your prospects intrinsically motivated to learn? Do they have self-efficacy and humility (all hallmarks of someone who does not presume to know, but is ready to learn). The best learners understand that information changes at an accelerating rate and that they need to ask questions when they don’t understand the task at hand. They are humble in the respect that they have failed but bounced back, do not expect success to come easily, and do not take the success they have for granted.

The age of machines is upon us, and that means humans must capitalize on the tasks that a machine could never do: the high-level critical thinking, innovation, and emotional intelligence. To this end, environment is crucial. To enable human learning, one must abandon the hierarchical “command-and-control” models of management that stifle intrinsic motivation. These environments offer swift punishment but little reward.

Small, fast, and cheap experiments, processes of collaboration that drive innovation, are the factors that Hess champions in his book on this subject. What’s more, a collaboration process is a tenuous mix of empathy, humiliation, persistence, and authenticity that requires both the right individuals and the proper environment. Bringing all three together isn’t easy. It takes a strong leader to refrain from inspiring people while allowing the “inspiration” to come from the work itself.

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