Get Smarter

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:37 pm

Some organizations seem to struggle with corporate evolution, even in the midst of industry, market and/or technological change. Often, the struggling organization is a learning-disabled organization, unable to make course corrections and advancements based on the insights and knowledge they should have gained through their corporate experience. Conversely, a successful organization is able to maintain a competitive advantage, engage employees and leverage the intellect of the collective team while improving overall financial performance. They are able to do this because they have the corporate habits and processes in place that support the creation of knowledge and insight within the employee team. The successful company has created a learning organization.

Organizational learning is simply the acquisition of knowledge and the utilization of the insights gained from this knowledge in an effort to help an organization perform successfully. Let’s self-analyze for a moment. Based on the above definition of organizational learning, rate your company’s overall effectiveness as a learning organization (one is the lowest and 10 is the highest):  _________."

So how did you rate your organization? Is your organization a fast or a slow learner? Did you know that organizational learning is a leading indicator to future financial performance? In other words, your company’s future financial success is directly tied to its ability to learn and communicate cross-functionally throughout the organization. In fact, best financial performance requires that leadership fully leverage the intellectual capital within the organization. The only way to do this is to create an organization that learns.

Simply stated, if you want to grow your organization, you need to grow your people.  This should be of no surprise to anyone. Developing and leveraging the people on your team can and should be a huge differentiator for your organization. In other words, your company must have the corporate habits and processes in place that support the growth and development of the employee team.

Creating a Learning Organization

Keep in mind, it is management’s responsibility to establish a culture of learning. The best managers find ways to grow and tap into the collective wisdom of their teams.

One strategy to assist in creating a learning organization is the creation of an internal corporate book club. Sounds boring doesn’t it? Well, let me assure you, some very large and very successful organizations use this low-cost strategy to assist in the growth and development of their management and employee teams. A book club is a great way to enhance the corporate learning experience.  

When creating your corporate book club, here are a couple things to consider:

  • With this effort, you are focusing on creating a collaborative cross-functional development activity that will introduce new ideas into the organization and will provide a forum for the management team to discuss theory, strategy, organizational effectiveness, the art and science of managing people and more.
  • Get the management team involved in the book selection process so you capture their interest and buy-in. 
  • Don’t make this a chore for people. They already have enough chores and projects in their lives.
  • Read one book every four months (three books per year unless your team is aggressive and they want to read more).
  • Hold the book review after hours. 
  • Create a relaxing environment and provide snacks and beverages for the team.
  • Create a short list of questions for the team to respond to for each book, and don’t make everyone respond to every question. It will feel like an assignment if you do.

Potential book review questions:

  • What did you like about the book? Please explain.
  • What didn’t you like about the book? Please explain.
  • What did you agree with and why? Please explain.
  • What did you disagree with and why? Please explain.
  • What idea(s) did you get from the book that you feel we can and/or should implement here?
  • Based on the insights you gathered from the book, what should we do different?

People learn more quickly and more effectively when they participate in cross-functional organizational activities. A corporate book club is one example of a corporate habit that supports the goal of accelerating the growth and development of your employee team.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display