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The 5 Essential Traits of a Learning Organization

In a rapidly evolving digital world, human resources are the biggest asset for any organization. Thus, creating a culture of learning is essential to tap into the true potential of your employees and stoke their growth.

A “learning organization,” conceptualized by Peter Senge, empowers individuals to pursue their interests, nurtures innovation and creativity, and focuses on the vision of transformation. In other words, it is synonymous with freedom and collaborative thinking.

In short, by prioritizing the contributions of your employees, you can drive personal growth and manage workplace performance. More importantly, you can instill confidence in employees that their ideas are valued.

Find out more about the five essential traits of a learning organization and see how you can bring them into action.

A flat organizational structure

The process of cultivating a culture of learning starts with the symbolic erosion of a hierarchy.

Markedly, a hierarchical structure creates a fear of making mistakes, a habit of seeking permission, and a reluctance to pitch new ideas.

Unlike an organizational setup in traditional organizations, a learning organization works on collaboration and open communication. To nurture a level of interdependence, they naturally adopt a more horizontal organizational structure.

For example, transparency, autonomy, and confidence are some of the most foundational qualities required to build an organizational structure powered by change.

Plan of action

Here are some actionable ways for you to flatten the hierarchy in your organization:

  • An open-door policy of communication
  • A be-your-own-boss approach
  • Cross-functional meetings and remote training

Innovative problem-solving approach

Innovation and change are the only ways organizations can sustain themselves in the future.

Not only does a learning organization imbibe innovation and enable its employees to ideate with autonomy, but it also encourages you to think beyond the mainstream. From senior executives to interns, everybody ideates at the same level and are free to contribute with their out-of-box ideas for solving problems.

According to Peter Senge, a learning organization should challenge the assumptions and usual behaviors to learn, innovate, and change.

Plan of action

Implement these practices to promote innovative thinking in your team:

  • Conduct engaging brainstorming sessions
  • Encourage distraction-free deep work
  • Promote learning through blogs and training material
  • Focus on empathizing with the employees

Collaborative rather than a competitive learning environment

On the whole, a learning organization focuses on imparting knowledge in a collaborative environment.

Individuals work in a group to brainstorm to combine their diverse skills and expertise. Such differing opinions and ideas can create an enriching learning experience. Moreover, this collaborative knowledge-sharing framework builds trust and confidence among the employees to contribute more freely.

As a matter of fact, a peer learning approach also empowers the team to succeed and fail together and eliminates any rigid perceptions of the members.

Plan of action

Here are some ways you can cultivate greater collaboration in your team:

  • Hold open-for-all meetings and discussions
  • Implement and include knowledge sharing strategies in the day-to-day work culture
  • Use creative collaboration tools like Miro
  • Encourage cross-functional communication

People-oriented leadership

A lot rests on the kind of leadership present in an organization. Namely, a learning organization thrives on forward-thinking leadership.

More than any employee, the CXOs, managers, and top-level executives must show commitment to their people. These leaders also carry the force of change by giving the team a direction to move forward. Therefore, their approach towards their employees is important.

Furthermore, from identifying challenges to discussing the company’s shared vision, the top leadership is responsible for fostering a learning culture and motivating employees to follow suit.

Plan of action

Promote people-oriented leadership in your organization through these methods:

  • Interact with everyone on a more personal basis
  • Build relationships through consistent communication
  • Publish thoughts on key matters for your team

Mutually accepted vision

The fifth most essential trait of a learning organization is the vision it is striving to achieve.

A learning organization works with a collective identity and a shared vision. This vision can be either the management’s strategically planned goals or the employees’ shared objectives. In addition, it has to reflect the company culture and act as a guiding principle for the team.

Notably, the key differentiator between a traditional company’s vision and that of a learning organization is that the latter does not believe in putting the vision on the website or the office wall. In effect, a learning organization works toward and iterates on its vision as the company grows.

Plan of action

You can build a mutually accepted vision by encouraging employees to:

  • Share what matters to them
  • Visualize their future for the company

Conclusion

Creating a meaningful culture of learning is a crucial driver of business growth. Basically, as a learning organization, you can offer freethinking and team learning avenues—empowering your employees to maximize their potential.

In summary, a learning organization allows individuals to pursue their creativity and make mistakes without the fear of consequences. Because of this, in an increasingly competitive market, inculcating these values in your employees is bound to secure good results for your business goals.

Encourage communication and knowledge sharing. Also, shift the focus from your profits to your people–and witness the transformation of your organization.

Collaborative Learning: Web Conferencing Tools Made Easy

Computer technology has progressed in amazing ways, providing a seemingly endless list of tools to make life, work, and even learning easier and more available. In reference to education, electronic learning (e-learning) successfully utilizes electronic media in the pursuit of higher learning. E-learning takes advantage of such media technologies as typed text, imagery, audio bites, video, and animation to teach its diverse lessons.

Although television and audio/video tapes have been successful e-learning outlets, the internet has revolutionized distance learning, mainly due to its interactive attributes. One of the most popular forms of internet e-learning lies in networking through a variety of platforms which allow the advanced sharing of information. Through such means, collaborative learning can occur which places a group together for the purpose of sharing and interacting, thus increasing learning time and effectiveness while reducing costs. 

Web Conferencing Features

Web conferencing technology is the driving force behind collaborative learning. Meetings, classes, and training sessions that used to only be accessible through person-to-person, telephone, email, or online chats are now available in face-to-face settings from great distances over the internet.

The value of a visual and audio presence will always hold its edge in any learning or training environment. The power to drive home a message relies on an acute ability to offer a winning presentation, and the visual and audio capabilities of web conferencing delivers these qualities to its audiences. 

Benefits of Web Conferencing

Web conferencing, therefore, offers a wide selection of benefits for those pursuing collaborative learning goals. A large number of people can get together from around the world to give and receive information. Through webcams and web microphones, interaction takes place in real time so that ideas, solutions, questions, and answers can all be shared with all who are in attendance.

Web conferencing platforms also allow users to interact through websites, pictures, charts, files, notes, recordings, videos, whiteboards, and more to present what is needed–all through a computer screen. These meetings can also be recorded and experienced over and over again to gain more from the information provided.

Both time and money is also saved through web conferencing technology. Great amounts of time are saved by bypassing travel. Meeting can be set up within minutes, shared through email, text, or phone and attended from wherever there is a computer and internet connection. Not having to travel to distant lands or even across town to attend meetings also saves a lot of expense as well as reduces one’s carbon footprint. 

UberConference Makes It Easy

UberConference is a top web conferencing application that allows its users to partake in stellar audio conference calls. Once the application is loaded, connection is made automatically through a dialup feature. Attendees are then selected and receive an email, text, or call to meet. No registration or PINs are required by attendees to be present at the meeting which has been initiated by the original user. The UberConference app is available for iPhone or Androids as well as computers.

Practically every feature necessary to create and attend a high quality web conference is included in the UberConference software. For instance, a visual overview is provided on every attendee so that everyone can be viewed which drastically reduces confusion of who said what. A variety of filtering features are also included so that users can mute, remove, add, or ‘earmuff’ (temporarily block) other callers. Meetings can even be recorded in a popular MP3 format.

The company of UberConference has taken their service to the next level by merging with Google which has a well established video platform, but suffers from limited voice call participation. The merger allows UberConference, with its limited video abilities, access to Google’s powerful video platform while enhancing it with its wide calling capacity (up to 100 people). The two companies integrate their technologies via the Google Hangouts platform which provides a conferencing experience that excels the expectations of any collaborative learning or other web conferencing requirement. 

Conclusion

The power of the internet has opened a wide and beneficial door for those seeking collaborative learning opportunities. By utilizing the latest web conferencing technologies, such as UberConference, knowledge can be obtained and skills honed easily, conveniently, and without wasting time and money.

(About the Author: Norah Abraham has been a freelance writer since 2005. She attended the University of Boston and graduated with a Bachelor in English Literature. She loves public speaking and motivates people in her own comic style. She loves gadgets and techie stuffs. In her career, she has written dozens of Press Releases, Articles, and Essays.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

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Social Learning: Making Connections Count #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Want to see a full overview of this week’s event’s and resources? Read the #TChat Recap: Crowdsourcing — Hot Mess or High Art?)

Learning. It’s fundamental to human personal and professional growth. And increasingly, corporations recognize its critical contribution to overall business growth.

But how is the learning process changing in today’s more connected, “social” world of work? Are we making the most of opportunities to collaborate? How can we leverage personal and professional networks to be smarter and more effective in every aspect of our lives?

This week, our “Summer Restart” series moves beyond last week’s crowdsourcing event, to focus more specifically on how to get more out of tools and techniques designed to curate and share collective wisdom.

Our guest brings unique, first-hand understanding of how and why collaborative learning can enrich our lives, improve professional performance and drive business innovation.

Nick Kellet is a pioneer in applying purposeful collaboration to business challenges and opportunities. He is co-founder of List.ly, a service that empowers people to create, manage, share and engage with the web’s best lists.

Nick helped me frame this week’s events by discussing his perspective on social learning in a brief G+ Hangout:

#TChat Events: Connecting Collaboration and Success

This week’s topic is destined to shift your collaborative spirit into high gear. So be sure to join us on Wednesday, July 31, for a dynamic #TChat double-header. Bring your questions, concerns, ideas and suggestions, and let’s talk!

#TChat Radio — Wed, July 31 at 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

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Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Nick joins our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman for a thoughtful look at why and how collaboration tools and techniques are redefining how we live, work and play. Listen live and dial-in with your questions and feedback!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, July 31 at 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, we’ll go wide with Nick for an open-mic community discussion on the #TChat stream. We welcome anyone with a Twitter account to join us, as we explore collaboration and learning together, with these questions as a guide:

Q1:  Social learning — what exactly is it and why is it exploding?
Q2:  What soft skills are needed to facilitate collaboration online and offline?
Q3:  How do collaboration and knowledge sharing enrich our integrated work/life lives today?
Q4:  Nick says “We are what we consume, produce and share.” Agree? Why/why not?
Q5:  What technologies enable social learning and collaboration today? What’s missing?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!