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Blake Henegan

Optimus Learning Services

Managing Director

Read more from Blake Henegan

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CIPD Leaders in Learning – 7th September 2017


CIPD Leaders in Learning events

These are free events for L&D professionals (not just members) to attend, to learn, network and discuss with peers the current real challenges facing the industry.

If you were not lucky enough to make this event, look at the CIPD website for future events.

The topic this time around: Driving the new learning organisation

25 years ago, Peter Senge released his seminal work, The Fifth Discipline:  The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation.

This described five disciplines that must be mastered when introducing learning into an organisation:

  • Systems thinking
  • Personal mastery
  • Mental models
  • Building shared visions
  • Team learning

With advances in technology and systems to connect people (think Facebook, LinkedIn, Yammer, Skype for Business etc) the past few years have seen people discuss the possibility that Senge’s vision could be realised in organisations.

This has led Towards Maturity to create a report “Driving the new learning organisation – How to unlock the potential of L&D”

The results are fascinating and should be considered by both L&D but indeed any department or individual within an organisation.  Some of the key stats from the report show that Top Deck Organisations (the top 10% of the result who are embracing the new learning organisation) are:

  • 3 x more likely to achieve growth
  • 4 x more responsive to change and transformation
  • 3 x more productive
  • 3 x more likely to report sustained profitability

How powerful are these figures? Show them to senior leaders and ask them if they’d like to achieve this level of competitive edge?

Impact on people

However, the statistics fail to mention anything about the impact on people, a point raised in the room by Jose Franca, Head of L&D at Edelman.  So, it raises the question, are organisations more focused on the stats and performance figures ahead of people engagement.   This shouldn’t be a problem, it’s on us in L&D to use these results to justify why solid investment is needed in people development.

So, what are the 6 characteristics of the New Learning Organisation

Towards Maturity has used the data to uncover six characteristics that will guide you to unlock potential by driving a future-focused New Learning Organisation.  These are:

I’d recommend reading the report to drill deeper into each one of these points.

Three further questions were posed during the discussions.   The answers from each session will be collated by the CIPD, I’ve shared the answers from the group I was with.

What key aspects of L&D strategy are needed to support the new learning organisation?

  • An approach to performance management i.e. appraisals (formal), career chats (informal)
  • A structured approach to L&D – the L&D function knows how people view L&D and its role in the organisation.
  • Continued robust analysis of the organisation and impact of L&D
  • Enablers for culture change and growth mindset – systems as well as people.

What are the implications of the new learning organisations on the focus and capability of the L&D team?

  • More strategic – understanding business needs
  • Enable self-directed learning – provide the motivation and structure for employees
  • Confidence to constructively challenge themselves 
  • New disciplines – data analysis, marketing, technical – to the L&D professional
  • Market their services to their employees – view as customers
  • Involve end users – unleash creativity and have user-generated content
  • Flexible learning options for employees to choose
  • Individual development to be celebrated
  • Dare to make L&D redundant? Can the employee generate, curate and share content?

What are the implications of the new learning organisation for the business?

  • Create culture of knowledge sharing (stepping away from silo learning)
  • Allow people time to both share knowledge and learn
  • Accept you need to keep developing people to maintain competitive edge
  • Accept some people will leave but you’ll be able to recruit well
  • Clarity and transparency about career progression and learning to support this

Upon reflection

The topdeck organisations looking to drive new learning organisations are breaking down cultural walls, offering innovative solutions and engaging with the business, at employee and manager level.They are standing out.

If you are looking to be in that topdeck, improve the culture of L&D within your organisation and make the changes to drive a new learning organisation then now is the time to set the wheels in motion.   Review your strategy, create the tactical plans, get input from the topdeck, use your expertise to make these changes happen and show your value as a L&D professional.

Author Profile Picture
Blake Henegan

Managing Director

Read more from Blake Henegan

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