A Brief Look at 3 Organizational Learning Models

There are a number of organizational learning models commonly approached and accepted in the field today. These models do not reflect so much how organizational learning is approached strategically, which is a very disparate subject in itself, but in how metrics and observations of success and progress within the mechanics of organizational learning are to be handled and documented by leadership.

None of these organizational learning models are specifically more correct or advanced than the others, and depend via proficiency on the type of organization and the strategy being employed to begin with. It all depends on which model best suits how your strategy works and how your organizational dynamics work, in which one best represents a structure of observation and metric-acquisition. So, how can you know which one is more appropriate for your organizational learning needs? Let’s take a look at three of the most accepted models, and describe them a bit, along with popular strategies they would most likely compliment.

A Brief Look at 3 Organizational Learning Models

Organizational Learning Models

#1 – Individual and Organizational Integrated Model

This model actually closely resembles models used for measuring a similar learning strategy, knowledge management, in which a dynamic and cyclical flow of interlink defines the spread and cooperation of information during development. While the model is not the spiral that knowledge management would actually draw when graphed, the similarity with the circular dependence and cascading flow of learning closely resembles it nonetheless.

This model is far better for larger organizations as it allows for the increasingly proposed hybridization of knowledge management and organizational learning in a cellular grid which is being accepted widely for larger groups. This circular model allows for easier management of larger units by making series of smaller units out of it, which are easier to measure and grade the flow between them.

This model is not practical for smaller learning projects, as it will become an over complicated mess in such a scenario, more likely than not.

#2 – Two-Dimensional Model

The two-dimensional model is a far simpler way to look at organizational learning and as such is perfect for smaller groups, or as a cooperative model alongside integrated models for base units. Using simple diagrams to watch the flow of information and divine where a frustrated or successful organization may be in the current process, it aids in ongoing training needs assessment which the integrated model assumes is not necessary.

There come times when continued reassessment of needs and relevance of information are highly necessary, especially in smaller units like these, and this model accounts for that via simple graphing and a linear view of the organizational learning models as a whole.

#3 – The E-Flow Model

The E-Flow model is an itemized organizational learning model in which eleven key characteristics are outlined in any given organization or team, in relevance to the new learning. While in some cases there are a standard set of characteristics, in modern organizational learning, these characteristics should be defined during training needs assessment and therefore be unique to a specific task at hand.

The advantage of this model is it monitors the parallelism of learning and development for which organizational learning was designed to allow, so if this parallelism is the key factor, watching linear flow of specific key characteristics as they relate to one another, then this model is probably the best one to go with.


Truthfully, this is the most widely used model given it’s less complex than integrated models, while more detailed and intuitive than two dimensional models, providing an easy to measure and track linear model that doesn’t’ confuse anyone. When a strategy goes wrong, this model also permits the easiest trouble shooting due to its transparency.

There are countless other organizational learning models out there, but these are the three most widely accepted and used, and more likely than not, one of these will be right for your needs.

Read more about organizational learning skills and techniques that you should try!

Jason Silberman
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog
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