Learning organization: why Swiss education managers should be inspired by Silicon Valley methods

As we have seen, deciding to implement a learning culture to become a Learning Organization requires the use of a number of tools. The first question that often comes to leaders in this area is “how much will it cost? “. The answer could be “with goodwill and creativity, not much. The return on investment could also be surprisingly positive.

Here are some small tips for training managers who are working with HR managers or any visionary who would have a little budget but a lot of ideas.

Employees, the first catalysts of change defining the Learning Organization

Let’s take the case of Google, which has created a program called G2G (Googler to Googler). This program consists of voluntary peer-to-peer teaching, which is based on the principle that within the company it is the employees who are the most knowledgeable and qualified resource, and they are also most certainly the best source of learning other employees defining a Learning Organization. 80% of all training courses are therefore followed via a network of employees. Google follows an 8-step process in which volunteers are evaluated on their interest in “teaching”, their level of expertise, plus their ability and passion to transmit and share.

How can we be inspired by this type of practice and develop new behaviors? 

Creativity is never so much increased as when we don’t have many resources. Here is a list inspired by innovative business practices that contain 6 rituals to be implemented to boost learning!

  1. Practice the “5 minutes of knowledge sharing“: every week, a colleague explains in this short time a skill he or she has. A special dedication for those who would like to that skill  – for example – learn how to use “styles” in word.
  2. Tea time: every Friday, two departments meet: one person from each team presents their latest project. The result – Contribution and “cross-training” for the program.
  3. Organize the “missed of the week”: employees who have tried something new that has failed present the case to the group:  The group provides feedback and tips and encourages employees to try again.
  4. Collective intelligence: problem-solving when it is not possible to get together to brainstorm? Send a message to a group of colleagues asking them to formulate their recommendation in a maximum of one sentence beginning with a verb. At the next meeting, set aside 3 minutes to debrief and explain the solution you have chosen.
  5. Incredible talent: make yourself “referents”, or “subject matter experts” to whom people can turn to if they have questions about a particular field. For example, Romain is the “encyclopedia” of the “5 why” method: when something is wrong and you don’t understand the cause, you call it. Valorise each “expert” in your internal communication tool.
  6. Encourage collaborators to practice co-development with groups of external professionals. Groups meet to each discuss a complex case and gain valuable advice and expertise from the professionals. Good practices can be fostered and injected into the company.

Finally, despite the urban legend that a new behavior is adopted in 21 days, science states that it will take a little more time and perseverance to anchor these habits: on average of 66 days. Another success factor will be to obtain the full support of the management: its full and complete encouragement and not only its “authorization” in the process. Learning is a process that requires exchange, continuous feedback, and willingness. Not necessarily a lot of money!

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