Learning is the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught. In order for a company to excel it must be constantly learning. Be it learning about a new client or how to correct an error, the organization must be consistently seeking new knowledge. It is critical not only for an organization to learn, but for people to pass along the knowledge they have gained in the process. For a person to be fully in sync with what he or she is doing in a company, it is important that they learn about the organization inside and out, and stay up-to-date with organizational changes. An employee should continuously be seeking knowledge to better the workplace. This should not be limited to employee learning. Organizational learning can happen only if everyone is learning when there is an error or a standard operating procedure change anywhere within the organization. This helps keep everyone on the same page and this knowledge is of supreme importance irrespective of the size of the organization. Thus, we move ahead to the last and final step in the ladder of Operational Excellence—Learning Organization.
Learning organization is the business term given to a company that facilitates the continued learning growth of its members. Learning organizations develop as a result of the pressures facing modern organizations and enables them to stay competitive in the business environments. For a company to run smoothly, every employee must be on the same page and there are different ways to achieve this:
- Root Cause Analysis—Every organization comes across errors and mistakes at some point in their work cycle. When an error occurs, an Operationally Excellent organization runs a Root Cause Analysis to find the error and get to know how and why it happened. An RCA helps the entire organization in getting a picture of what went wrong and where.
- Standard Operating Procedure—Once the RCA is done and the error has been rectified, a new SOP should be drafted in case the error repeats. This would help the entire team be ready the next time an error pops up in the picture.
- Knowledge Loop—Once the RCA is done and the new SOP is drafted, the entire team should understand the error and the new standard operating procedure for it. This would keep every member of the team in the knowledge loop as to what is going on in the organization.
According to Peter Senge (who coined the term learning organization), the main benefits of learning organization are:
- Maintaining levels of innovation and remaining competitive.
- Being better placed to respond to external pressures.
- Improving quality of output at all levels.
- Increasing the pace of change within an organization.
When every employee is aware of the organization irrespective of the level he/she belongs to, it is easy for the organization to move forward with more productivity and efficiency. Organizational learning opens the door for innovations and helps each member of the team perform better.