In any company, one of the hardest things to accomplish is establishing a culture of organized learning. This means the company has a culture that gathers, retains, and transfers knowledge from employee to employee all throughout the organization. Skills, best practices, and technical know-how are not just tied to an employee; all that knowledge and experience is passed along and developed through generations of talent. Employees become mentors, and everything they’ve learned is successfully retained and used to its fullest potential!
Becoming a learning organization doesn’t just happen overnight; developing organized learning depends on the employees of the company. Buy-in is essential to cultivating the right attitudes and behaviors that create organized learning; having buy-in means that employees are dedicated and passionate about spreading knowledge. This is seen in several ways. For example:
- Long-tenured employees can effectively pass along their knowledge, experience, and advice to the next generation of employees.
- New hires can learn the right mindsets to cultivating and maintaining a culture of organized learning.
- Leaders can develop and implement company strategies that align with the goals of a learning organization.
Ultimately, everybody in the company plays a key role in making learning organizations successful. To truly understand this, let’s investigate the meaning behind learning organizations.
What is a Learning Organization?
Many scholars and companies have different interpretations of what defines a learning organization. However, one thing that all learning organizations have in common is that they are organizations dedicated to creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge.
In general, learning organizations are good at the following:
- Systematic problem solving
- Experimenting with new approaches
- Learning from their own experience
- Learning from the experience of others
- Transferring knowledge efficiently through their organization
These skills are driven by curiosity and critical thinking. In the organization, leaders need to be curious, open-minded, and willing to learn. Curiosity helps leaders share their knowledge, try new things, and seek out others who are genuinely curious and committed to learning. Additionally, when somebody in the organization recognizes knowledge that can be taught to others, critical thinking skills become essential to organized learning. Essentially, critical thinking skills help employees proactively share their knowledge to another person in an approachable, understandable manner. This helps overcome learning barriers such as assumptions made by the mentor or teacher.
Each of these skills plays into how the organization operates. New knowledge is put into practice in the organization’s processes; best practices and behaviors are improved through learning how knowledge affects each process. Ultimately, knowledge becomes a cornerstone to solving problems through experimentation and implementation.
Ultimately, successful learning organizations are contingent on the ideas produced by people. While the willingness to implement change and improve is fundamental, having the ideas to begin with is essential to growth. Without engaging people on their insight or thoughts for improvement, no learning can take place.
Organized Learning at Ulbrich
At Ulbrich we strive to embody the principles of a learning organization every day. For example, the dedicated people who work for Ulbrich show the determination and willingness to learn and improve how work is completed, and we encourage it. By embracing a lean environment, Ulbrich employees can continuously learn from one another through process improvement projects called A3 Projects. These projects not only help employees implement new knowledge into work processes, but getting the opportunity to share improvements at A3 Closings helps spread knowledge from one employee to another.
Organized learning has become so ingrained into who we are at Ulbrich that it is reflected in one of our Four Tenets, Continuous Professional Development. This tenet is synonymous with the personal and professional drive to develop and grow – to explore and embrace one’s curiosity; by leaving their comfort zones and expanding their horizons, employees throughout Ulbrich embrace this tenet to excel in their roles. This is critical to Ulbrich’s continued success; work functions such as A3 Closings or training opportunities evolve from ordinary to extraordinary. Employees and leaders use functions such as these to learn from one another and improve the ways that they do work. Ultimately, this aligns with Continuous Professional Development and contributes to Ulbrich’s culture of organized learning.
Organized learning doesn’t just happen overnight. In fact, cultivating the right culture for this takes time! Creating the right atmosphere relies on the people in the company; without everyone’s commitment to learning, retaining, and teaching knowledge, a culture of organized learning cannot be achieved. Ulbrich breaks the mold and succeeds in being a learning organization because of the people that make the company. Employees and leaders at Ulbrich embrace every work opportunity as a chance to grow; the drive, passion, and determination to learn exemplifies the meaning behind learning organizations and truly impacts how work is done!