What are the tools of organizational learning? As I’ve stated in a previous blog post, a high performing MP900314121 organization needs a comprehensive approach to learning and a set of tools to facilitate learning. A training program, or an educational event, or even a CEO’s speech about the importance of learning is not enough. Continuous learning requires continuous learning interventions that encourage and facilitate knowledge acquisition and application to the workplace. An online leadership course is nice but it will have little to no effect if not integrated with a long-term learning and performance improvement plan and an organization-wide culture of learning.

One way to think about organizational learning is to consider who are the learners (hint: everyone) and what kinds of tools would help them learn.  Learners are: 1) individual employees/members/volunteers; 2) work teams; 3) the enterprise as a whole (company, nonprofit, government agency); and 4) the communities in which the organization lives and interacts. Types of tools that can be used for learning are: 1) assessments of level of functioning; 2) models of organizational systems; and 3) solutions to deficiencies in individual, team, organization, and community performance.

These categories of learners and tools translate into a four by three matrix of learners and learning tools. In the left-hand column are the targets of learning interventions and in the row across the top are the types of tools for learning. A true learning culture is constantly considering what tools to apply in order to enhance learning in every cell of this matrix. I’ve inserted examples of tools in the matrix below.






Interview questions to Identify causes of performance problems

Chart of the learning process in organizations

How to have a learning conversation between manager and learner


Survey of team readiness for high-performance

Table of characteristics of high-performing teams

How to apply action-learning to teams

Whole organization

Survey of employee engagement

Chart of process for achieving strategic goals

How to overcome barriers to organizational learning


Survey of community's capacity to support organization

Chart of community pressures on organization

How to engage external community in mutual learning and change


Each tool in this matrix is intended to be used in a reflective environment. To ensure learning from each tool, participants must be willing to collect information and feedback and then have conversations with others about what the data mean to the organization and what can be learned from this data. It’s the feedback and reflection that results in learning, not simply the application of a tool. For example, assessing team readiness for high-performance isn’t useful unless the team looks at that assessment data, reflects on its meaning, and intentionally learns from the information. 


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