Establishing a Learning Organization Culture

Key takeaways:

  • In 1990, Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization, coined the term “learning organization.”
  • When it comes to building a learning organization, 5 pillars comprise this structure: systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning.
  • See more stories on Matter's blog.

What is a learning organization?

In 1990, Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization, coined the term “learning organization.” He described learning organizations as “organizations that encourage adaptive and generative learning, encouraging their employees to think outside the box and work in conjunction with other employees to find the best answer to any problem.”

Essentially, a learning organization culture framework to help individuals in the company create, expand, and transfer their knowledge and skillset. And many experts view organizational learning as a process that evolves over time. It’s not an overnight change. While it takes time to cultivate and adapt to learning organizations, the benefits of this model have to lead to strong performance and productivity. 

According to Bloomfire, when it comes to building a learning organization, 5 pillars comprise this structure: 

  • “Systems thinking: Recognizing organizations as a system of smaller complex systems by taking time to understand the whole as well as each component. 
  • Personal mastery: Giving team members the means to become masters of their domain through continued education and skill-building opportunities.
  • Mental models: Acknowledging the assumptions and generalizations that influence decisions and setting them aside to make room for progress and new ideas.
  • Shared vision: Using dialogue, enthusiasm, and commitment to drive the action rather than dictating without context. 
  • Team learning: Using collaboration and mutual creativity rather than herd mentality to achieve goals.”

3 Strategies to building a learning organization 

Striving for learning organization culture means knowing that the backbone of your company are the people. That's why building a culture that values and supports teams are vital to the company's success. Try these three strategies when building a successful learning organization to boost productivity and morale in the workplace. 

Managing oneself

Part of establishing a learning organization is encouraging you and your peers to manage themselves or managing up. That means promoting self-guided exploration into professional pieces of training, webinars, or courses. Or even encouraging personal project endeavors where you’re able to practice your time management, collaboration, strategic thinking, and communication skills. 


However, be prepared to take those risks and potentially fail. But don’t worry, it’s all part of being a growth-minded individual. Part of a learning organization is allowing team members to offer ideas, share perspectives, and turn mistakes into learning opportunities. 

Supportive team structure

You can’t build a house on shaky ground, just as you cannot cultivate a successful learning organization without a reliable team structure. Creating a supportive team means:

  • Equipping people with tools and resources to carry out their daily tasks
  • Promoting regular feedback sessions
  • Giving public praises and kudos to team members
  • Practicing empathy and active listening
  • Encouraging individuals to find learning opportunities in each roadblock

When it comes to introducing new projects, helping team members understand their roles, responsibilities, and tools to be successful. The key idea is to ensure everyone person is on the same page and in the loop.

Working with others

Ultimately, building a learning organization is a group effort. Everyone needs to be actively involved in the process of implementing training, providing support, and cultivating a collaborative culture. So, it’s natural to encourage collaboration and teamwork. When individuals work together openly, values and direction become more aligned, leading the group towards a higher success rate of achieving a common goal.

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