We have all been there… that place where we are struggling to “actively” learn, to do more than just report on lessons learned which often end up tucked away at the end of a report, never to be acted upon.
Finding the most effective way(s) to institutionalize learning plans is an extremely difficult task. This process becomes even trickier when you start to think about embedding a culture of learning beyond your immediate team, to the organizational or even at a global level.
Learning specialists, like myself, are continuously acting as facilitators of learning, helping to make a value proposition clear for individuals and teams to think about learning beyond those boundaries to who else might benefit.
As part of the Policy & Learning Working Group at the Society for International Development- Washington (SID-W), we are working to ensure lessons learned are available at the right time to those individuals and teams who need them to inform their next steps.
I see a clear consensus emerging. Shifting the focus to the people involved—and specifically to their individual needs and motivations—has the potential to put documenting and sharing what we learn closer to the top of the ‘to-do’ list, and ensures knowledge and lessons learned reach those who need them.
Planning for a Culture of Learning with Agility and Engagement in Mind
Two critical concepts—AGILITY and ENGAGEMENT—will allow you to create synergies between organizational plans for learning and individual motivations and needs. I elaborate below on how these ideas are mutually reinforcing and provide some practical suggestions you can implement today.
Systems and processes for learning need to be adaptable and flexible. Recognizing that we cannot plan for when learning will happen or when (or where) it will be needed, we need to be flexible. Because learning is non-linear, it requires multiple entry points and modalities. Letting individuals make their own mental models around an issue and follow where that track leads is critical to creating space for adaptation.
Giving individuals and teams more ownership and options around how and when they can collaborate and learn from each other also increases engagement: people are more likely to see this as something they get to do, rather than something they must do.