Organizational Learning Theory – The Key Factor

Organizational learning theory is getting a lot of attention lately from businesses, educational specialists and business dynamics scientists alike. Why is this? Part of it is probably due to the ever-evolving technological world in which we live, and as a result of this, the constant need on a near daily basis to learn some new features in existing software or technology, or completely new software or technology altogether.

As a result, organizational learning, whereby entire groups of individuals are trained within a company or organization on a new concept, has become a bit more of a logistical challenge than it once was, making skilled training in this environment a bit of an art form. Therefore, it has warranted its own sub field of science and specialism, in which theorists propose the best models and methods to handle this new science of business learning.

Constant Learning as a Key Factor in Organizational Learning Theory

This isn’t a new concept, as analysts as far back as the 1970s proposed concepts to refine the learning process for teams of individuals, early theories included the Schorn theory, upon which most conventional organized learning models are based.

However, in modern times, due to the exponentially rapid increase of progress and change, a new model has been proposed – the constant learning model. This is a new organizational learning theory that, along with gamification and distributive models, is garnering a lot of interest and press coverage in the business world.

organizational learning theory

What defines constant learning, beyond its obvious name? Well, in truth, constant learning, while heralded as a model all its own, is really suited as a key component in other, larger models of organizational learning. Basically, as its name describes, constant learning is a system in which no specific ultimate goal in training an organization is set, but rather an unending set of smaller goals, with new ones being added as old ones are fulfilled by the entire group.

Interested in gamification concepts? Well, this stepped goal system is a perfect complement to the gamification model, allowing for an enduring, ongoing “game” of learning that, with no final goal, creates a sandbox environment that may reduce some of the competitive hostility naysayers of gamification often raise as an argument against it.

This constant learning model allows for a pacing that also alleviates the man hours and tedium of training sessions or lectures which traditional A-B learning goals kind of require. This means that during constant learning, smaller doses of information, on a frequent basis, can be absorbed by individuals and groups at a normal, natural pace, while they go on about their work unabated.

Note that it’s best not to explain this constant learning concept to your employees, as it may affect its effectiveness and also feel imposing to them. They will likely never notice it without it being pointed out as it complements their existing natural tendency to pick up new learning in daily life.

Ultimately, though, the greatest benefit of constant learning, with no finality to the process, is that with employees used to subtle new learning on a frequent basis, and not feeling taxed by the unending training, there will never be sharp transitions to new learning or new things needing to be understood. When technology changes or procedures are reworked, the new information will naturally sift down among the organization’s members through a steady trickle as information always has without end.

This will provide an organic environment, where change is just a gradual, natural thing that nobody even notices sharply. This abates any misgivings about new ideas, and the employees do not feel judged or graded beyond what gamification may playfully display.

You will want a proper chain of delivery for information and learning, especially with such a steady stream like this model. Establish a hierarchy for the trickle of new learning, from department heads to team leaders and then down to individuals via standard interaction. Keep a metric on how well information among individuals is spreading, and adjust the flow of information accordingly if it seems not to work. If altering dynamics fails, remove hierarchy and revert to linear handing out of information in subtle ways. Hierarchies may not always work, but more often than not, they do.

Ultimately, when you look at it now, you can see how constant learning may be the key to unified organizational learning theory, and may in fact be a way to marry the incentives and enjoyable nature of gamification to the logic and structure of distributed models, while keeping the learning from even being a directly visible task.

Discover team training tips for organizational learning here.

Boaz Amidor
Head of Corporate and Marketing Communications at WalkMe and Contributing Author to Training Station blog.