What are the typical characteristics displayed by a learning organization?

Front Page Looking For… Seeking Accreditation or Training material What are the typical characteristics displayed by a learning organization?

This topic contains 1 reply, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Bea Coetzee 7 years ago.

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  • #6192

    I have become very passionate about learning and development and I want to be involved in the growth of learning and development in the scholarly network. However, I am receiving my first class, in service training and at an excellent company.

    I want to start creating our company’s training branch into an accredited training service provider. It is such a genius idea. Why aren’t more companies doing it. It would be start creating a more competitive economy and utility. I believe that I am (my firm) in the embryonic stage of our learning and development cycle. I have worked extremely hard and quite scientifically at getting the learning culture up. But, after 2 years and a few structural changes I am starting to sweat bullets again…

    What are the typical characteristics displayed by a leaning organisation?  But, how do I know what to look for in an organisation?

    I have a great strategy planned for my firms training unit. I have forecasted many opportunities that will enable us as a firm to remain market leaders.

    Have a great day

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  • #6198

    Being accredited and being a learning organisation is not necessarily the same.  Quite often it is miles apart. 


    The characteristics of a learning organisation is external benchmarking, flat company structure, customer focus, open communication, e-learning, systems thinking, continious improvement, etc.  It is a term by Peter Senge and he has written quite a few books about it. HIs book ‘Learning in Action’ should be quite usefull.


    In my opinion, the most progress towards becoming a learning organisation can be made by implementing e-learning, but it is open for debate.

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  • #6197

    Read the work of Chris Argyris on double-loop learning for characteristics displayed by a learning organisation. 

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  • #6196

    I recommend reading up (some of) the “Fifth Discipline” by Peter Senge.

    It followed his research at MIT where he founded the “Center for Organisational Learning” at MIT’s Sloan School.

    He makes a very pertinent statement:

    In the long run, the only sustainable source of competitive advantage is your organisation’s ability to learn faster than the competition.

    SA needs to take this issue seriously. I fully support your objectives.

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  • #6195

    Cassandra Julius

    Shaun, in my opinion; Learning and Development should be the heart-beat of any organisation … and this may take various forms. Often we look to organisations that do things in such a formal/official way, and omit to recognise those that may be doing wonderful work in a less official manner. There is a place for both.


    I do believe that any organisation has to, as part of their strategy promote a learning culture in all they do. This is from induction,to training or on-the-job coaching, performance discussions and talent retention strategies. This culture should be enforced from your key strategic heads, right through the line. What will the culture “look-like” or “feel-like”? I would imagine one would sense this through the type of conversations being held, how the conversations are being held and the frequency thereof. One should sense the energy or under-lying intent which should be that of promoting growth and development and not come from a malicious place. 


    What I have mentioned in here is not tangible. it would be interesting to hear from others, how they define the characteristics of a learning organisation.


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  • #6194

    A learning organisation is one which encourages and supports everyone to realise their potential and help them along a pathway of lifelong learning.  Do not forget the cleaner who maybe needs to learn to read and write, the worker who would love to find promotion but needs a matric to do so: it is not all about the people who accumulate ever more certificates to enable them to move up the career ladder.  There are also many other non formal areas of learning that help people develop life skills that enrich them personally, the people who work with them and the communities in which they live.  If we are to heal our society and build South Africa we have to think unselfishly about development, not just about profit and market share.  Obviously companies and organisations must survive and prosper but people must too.  Organisations that value their employees, respect them and enable them to grow are true learning organisations.

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  • #6193

    Frank Smit

    This is a great discussion. It is vital not only for competitiveness at an organisational level but also at a national level, a “learning society”…. something SA is very far from being unfortunately.

    Bea, re e-learning, we are a provider of e-learning services to corporates, and are passionate about the use of technology generally to support productive learning, but I would still see e-learning as only an enabler of the learning organisation and certainly not the only one. The drive to create, build, and maintain a learning organisation has to come from enlightened management in creating a culture of learning. There are many e-learning implementations which do very little to support this, being used for complaince training in particular, and the staff can in fact become quite negative about it as a result.

    I would be interested whether anyone can point particularly to organisations they work/ed for or interact with which they regard as being learning organisations. We read about this in books, but are there many good examples in SA? And what are they doing right?




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One thought on “What are the typical characteristics displayed by a learning organization?

  • Des Squire

    Hi Jacques, Throwing money about does not create jobs and neither does offering training in learnierhips which appears to be the main point put forward in your most interresting blog. the majority of companies I am involved with do offer learnerships and I have personally ben involved in training on learnerships. havy you perhaps noticed how many learnerships are given to companies by the SETAS? Have you noticed how long it takes to get approval? Have you noticed how many learners undergo learnerships just to get paid the subsistance allowance. How many learnershoips have been completed and how many jobs have been created to ensure the learners were placed in gainful employment?

    We do not necessarily need to create new jobs we must first fill the vacancies that exist. 

    If employers are required to take on inexperienced  and untrained applicants in order to assist in job creation then let the government offer some of the Millions to such companies as a subsify during the training and development period. 

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