Why learning is vital for successful strategy execution

I attended a seminar on Brain Based Learning recently. We learnt about the latest thinking on how our brains work, how we learn and why we learn. One of the key takeaways for me was that static, lecture style learning doesn’t work for most of us. What does work is interactive, multi-dimensional methods supported by ‘Learning 2.0’ technologies. The seminar also got me thinking, again, about how critical learning is to an organisation’s success.

We all know that today’s turbulent, fast paced, ever changing environment means businesses must constantly change to survive and grow. The most successful businesses are ‘masters of change’1, they know constant change is essential, they excel at creating a compelling shared vision and they excel at managing change. They also have people who are experts at acquiring new skills, creating new knowledge and transferring that knowledge to others. When it comes to strategy execution, ‘masters of change’ are 10 times more successful than other businesses.

These ‘masters of change’ are Learning Organisations. The core principles of a Learning Organisation are deeply embedded within their culture, making these organisations more open to new ideas, less resistant to change and more capable of supporting the individual and team learning required to make change successful. When it comes to Strategy Execution masters of change already have the organisation capability to learn, change and succeed.

How do you become a Learning Organisation? Adopt these six strategies:

1. Commit to the fundamental principles of the Learning Organisation from the top down and create a culture that is supportive of learning. Business leaders need to demonstrate a willingness to learn, create a safe supportive environment for everyone to learn in and create a compelling vision of the business as a Learning Organisation.

2. Make Learning & Development a strategic priority. Learning & Development (L&D) is far more than the provision of one-size fits all training for your employees. It is a strategic workforce capability that ensures you have the right people, with the right skills, performing the right jobs. Make improving Learning & Development a priority for everyone, not just the HR folks. Build a plan and provide the resources necessary to make it happen

3. Support individual learning. Organisations only ‘learn’ when the individuals within the organisations learn. L&D strategies such as competency based assessments and individual learning plans allow organisations to identify gaps in essential competencies and focus individual learning on supporting business goals. However, they must be backed up with the necessary learning resources to be effective.

4. Provide flexible Learning 2.0 options instead of sending people to expensive offsite classroom training. Strategies such as webinars, knowledge sharing, just in time learning, coaching and mentoring allow individuals to select methods that suit their learning style. Not only will you save money, your people will learn more and your business will see better results.

5. Implement Collaboration and Knowledge Management: Organisations learn when they ‘know what they know’ and people can readily access, share and improve on the organisations knowledge.

6. Critically evaluate the results of learning activities: Business benefits when learning is aligned to the business vision and objectives. Build measurement of learning outcomes into your L&D strategy and regularly review what is working and what isn’t.

Organisation Change is vital to survive and grow in today’s turbulent environment. Organisation Learning – becoming a “Learning Organisation”- is one of the most important keys to becoming a master of change and excelling at strategy execution. The good news is advances such as Brain Based Learning and Learning 2.0 make it practical for even the smallest of organisations to become a Learning Organisation.

Make a start today. Click Here to request a copy of Beyond Strategy Consulting’s Learning & Development Capability Assessment tool and begin your journey towards a Learning Organisation.

(1) Making Change Work, IBM, 2009