Creating a Culture of Learning - #1

Life is full of transitional stages when we move from one culture to another - with profound implications on what this means for us as a human being.

We move from the comfort of the womb to the world “outside” - a shift in culture that defies description! For most of the Western world, we have similar culture shocks as we move to our primary school education (from a culture of dependency to independency), through puberty (culture of childhood to teenager), leaving home, marriage - and several other obvious seismic culture shocks.

Each of these culture-changes helps shape us, and our perception of the world. However, there are many less obvious culture-changes that have just as big an impact on our development and world-view. One of the biggest hidden cultural transitions in the Western world occurs to most people around their early 20s, as they move from their final formal education into their chosen career.

This is the transition from a culture of learning, to a culture of producing.

Many organisations expect their new employees to begin with a well-stocked toolbox from their previous education, and to begin to use these tools to increase production and efficiency within their new culture. Whilst all organisations would agree there is some “on-the-job” training required, this is often seen as part of the transitional stage; once the new employee has learnt the ropes, they are fully immersed in the culture of production.

Recent research from University of Leuven has revealed this cultural attitude, but has also pointed out the need for organisations to create a culture of learning that is intentional, and envelops all employees within an organisation.

If an organisation wants to succeed in the competitive marketplace today, they must be an organisation that encourages innovation and creativity - and for this to happen, they must have a culture of learning that encourages new thinking and new ways of doing business.

Too often, creativity is thought of as an innate skill - something that just happens. Creativity can be encouraged through intentional steps - and creating a culture of learning is one way to foster innovative thinking and action within your organisation.

Before you move forward on this journey, it is wise to conduct some brief analysis into the culture of learning that may already exist in your organisation. Although there is more extensive tools available, begin by asking yourself and a cross-section of employees these questions:

What knowledge or ideas have we created in the past six months?

Have ideas been shared across employee divisions? If so, how did this occur?

How has our organisation intentionally changed as a result of new ideas we have discovered?