In recent times, we’ve seen an increasing number of people asking about the importance of organizational learning. This isn’t to say they question its effectiveness or propriety in the business world. Rather, people seem to be unsure of when to be concerned over the effectiveness of their organizational learning models and application, beholden to the ultimate success of their employees and in turn their company.
This is a very good question, but one that actually should be answered by looking at what organizational learning means versus traditional learning models based around discrete units (individual people in this case), and in turn the potential issues that can come out of it not balancing properly.
That said, let’s first outline the importance of organizational learning by comparing it to discrete learning traditions, and see which of the two seems to be the most efficient.
In discrete learning models, each individual is charged with learning new information under their own power and with minimal guidance. This may be a classroom environment in some cases, but still, ultimately each individual is on their own and must motivate themselves. It’s unlikely they can seek help from their colleagues who are not motivated through incentives to do so, and there is a lot of pressure and personal time eaten this way.
These old models were the primary way for ongoing training in the business world for a long time, and this is why even to this day when a group of employees are told that they must attend training, there will be an audible sigh from most. Some don’t value learning, or are overworked as it is, and their training will suffer for it while others will excel. Some will encounter trouble while others will not, and the disparity that ensues from individual directives means these aren’t addressed.
As a leader, this leaves you with quite a lot of individual threads to micro manage as well, and that’s … well that’s never good!
Now, let’s compare this to organizational learning. This is a team effort that has am multitude of strategies and models to choose from and hybridize where the individuals are given a sense of purpose within a collective common goal. As a result, their pressure is everyone else’s pressure, and there are incentives to help one another, and a lot of redundant or useless information isn’t wasted on the wrong individuals. A collective, sociologically dynamic flow of cooperative learning and information acquisition and dispersal can easily be implemented that results in an even distribution of training to the right people.
Many models or model components offer ways to incentivize people and account for disparate views on learning and self-importance as well. With an organizational learning model, it’s also a larger object for you as a leader to manage, with individuals just being components in a well-oiled machine rather than disparate threads that don’t mesh.
So, with this in mind, the collective approach is far more efficient, flexible and humanitarian than the older models, as well as far easier to manage. Easy management and good human compatibility are important in all things pertaining to business of course.
So, the importance of organizational learning, we feel, is now quite obvious.