Developing an Organizational Learning Framework

Unreal cube.Let’s try a different exercise today, shall we? Let’s actually design our own organizational learning framework. I’ve talked a lot about the nature of many that already exist, and man are there a lot of them. But I’ve mentioned in passing that a lot of experts will design their own frameworks, and I’ve even cited some examples of hybridization on a clunky, Frankensteinian level ourselves.

But, I’ve never talked you through actually designing a working organizational learning framework. So, today, let’s do just that. This will be a very simplified design, it will omit several components complex models use, and drastically reduce the amounts and types of metrics involved, but it will function reliably when we’re done with it.

First, let’s plan on what all we will want to use for our framework. Do we want to micromanage? Probably not, especially if we’re not training gurus by trade, but we’ve had the role of trainer thrust upon us out of nowhere. So, let’s keep it simple and plan on managing it as a large group. No knowledge management stuff for this design. Pure old fashioned group organizational patterns.

However, do we want to compartmentalize just a little bit? Maybe use communities of practice? Maybe not, for a simple, highly portable framework. That’s a powerful tool, but maybe it’d equate to overthinking the design here. But, if you want to split your group into some slightly smaller group entities of this sort, take the extra step if you like. It won’t affect the next steps.

Do we want to gamify this? Yes, we do, but we don’t plan on it being too elaborate. So, let’s account for that in how we design the loop and progress metrics in the next steps. We will want to leave room for the gamification angle to be more elaborate as the framework is used in later times of need, however.

So, now we define our loop, or flow. How big is the group? If it is large, we’ll want to go with a double loop. In a double loop, learning flow goes from introduction of material to conceptual application of knowledge, then to evaluation of success. From evaluation of success, if it fails, it goes back to introduction of material.

A single loop, which is good for small portability, goes from introduction, on to application and evaluation, but loops constantly back to application, not introduction, if evaluation fails. Let’s go with single loop for simplicity’s sake.

So now we know what the three basic segments of our training are – absorption of knowledge, study and application, and evaluation of grasp of the knowledge. We know in what direction the steps flow, as well. We have a shape to our framework.

What actually goes on during these steps? The introduction of material is obvious. Let’s plan to have a lecture overview, and then workshops where the information is studied in detail by small groups we randomly assign. Then, the practical application is actually a broad term. In this step, we actually practice the knowledge, and do group exercises of various forms to practice the applied knowledge. We then test it, and if the group does not pass, we go back to practice until they do.

So, now we build our metrics, which are entirely in the testing phase mostly. Let’s not use letter grades, but assign the individuals and the group a set of points that are lost as failures happen. We can layer gamification over this, and work some of that into group exercises and whatnot, during the application phase.

Yes, you just designed an organizational learning framework that quickly and easily. Try this framework out. It’s not novel, but it’s balanced to specific needs, and is expandable, so you can keep it as a starter kit, to design bigger models on, if you like.

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