Being fairly new to the consulting field, I have been devoting time to reading books and other material that relate to the industry and the type of client work we engage in here at SDI Consulting. I recently began reading a book on building learning organizations titled The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook. In it, I came across a great section that I think all people can relate to no matter what kind of company or organization you work in.
In order to understand the relevance of the following ideas, you must start with the fundamental question:
Why should organizations develop an intentional approach to continuous learning?
This may seem obvious to some of you. At a micro level, I believe we are all trying to learn and develop personally and professionally. However, at a macro level it may not be as obvious, but the answer to the question can have profound effects on the performance and overall success of an organization.
The following are the most relevant themes mentioned in the book along with a short summary of my thoughts:
- Superior Performance – Tying individual development of employees at every level to the economic performance of an organization as a whole.
- Quality – Shifting behavior and developing learning initiatives affects the quality of products, services, employees, and the organization as a whole.
- Customer Satisfaction – The learning approach will improve the customer experience and put companies in a position to be a true resource and to genuinely satisfy them.
- Competitive Advantage – “In the long run, the only sustainable source of competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster than its competition.”
- Energized, Committed Work Force – Continual investment in individual and organizational learning and development will lead to greater personal satisfaction in the work that is being done, which builds a greater connection and loyalty to the organizational mission and vision.
- Manage Change – A commitment to building a learning organization will create an environment where people are prepared for and embrace change, and look at it as an opportunity to improve.
It should be obvious that there is an accelerating speed of change with communication, competition, consumer trends, etc. Because external factors are constantly changing, it is vital that companies are agile and continually looking for ways to improve performance and advance their capabilities. To make this happen, you must develop your organization into an environment with a structured and intentional learning process.
Reference: The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization | by Peter M. Senge