Cheif Learning Officer Solutions for Enterprise Productivity

Agile Learning: Thriving in the New Normal

 -  11/29/09

In today's business environment, learning organizations must strive to succeed in five critical areas to create a truly agile enterprise.

Organizations have reason to ponder their mortality these days. They now compete in faster, more complex and more volatile markets. And casualties are mounting. Consider that six of the top 10 bankruptcies in U.S. history have occurred since last September. Those six corporations had a combined asset value of more than $1.25 trillion. What’s more, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts reports that corporate bankruptcy filings have doubled in the past 12 months. We’re not out of the woods.

A permanently altered reality, a new normal, has emerged. At stake is the fundamental capacity of organizations to adapt to rapidly changing conditions — and to do it over and over again. It’s becoming increasingly clear that strategy will not save us. Whatever competitive advantage an organization enjoys today is melting away. The only question is the rate of the melt.

How can organizations sustain competiveness? The answer is found in the pursuit of learning agility — the ability of an organization to learn at or above the speed of change. Organizations must accelerate knowledge cycles to keep pace with competitive cycles.

Organizational learning agility is an enterprise capability that requires deliberate and systematic design, including essential cultural, structural, process and technology-support elements. Based on studies from TRClark, a research, consulting and training company, there are five primary factors that interact to promote or hinder learning agility within organizations:

1. Intelligence function: The capacity of an organization to survey and interpret its entire business ecosystem, including both internal and external competitive environments. The intelligence function interprets information for the strategy function, which feeds the learning function.

2. Learning mindset: The prevailing assumptions, beliefs and dispositions relating to the way people learn.

3. Leadership behavior: The dominant patterns of leadership within an organization.

4. Organizational support: The processes, systems, structures and other forms of support that organizations provide to help employees in their formal and informal learning and execution activities.


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