!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Organizational Learning Styles

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Organizational Learning Styles

One of the notions I especially like in the Nevis/DiBella/Gould article I introduced in an earlier post is their stance that there is no one best way to be a learning organization. The key is to assess what your particular organization does well and not so well, and then decide what to build on and what to adjust.

The article describes how an organization's learning system is made up of its pattern of learning orientations and the degree to which it takes advantage of facilitating factors.

Learning orientations (or dimensions) are organizational values and practices concerning learning. They are based on the organization's culture, experiences, and core competences. Collectively, the define the organization's learning style.

A company's pattern of learning orientations plays a major role in determining what is learned and where the learning occurs. (The facilitating factors, overviewed in my earlier post, play a major role in determining how well learning is promoted.)

The 7 learning orientations are described below, listed according to the stage in the learning process that each most affects.

Knowledge acquisition stage

1. Internal vs. external source of knowledge — Preference for developing knowledge internally vs. preference for acquiring knowledge developed externally.

2. Product (what) vs. process (how) focus — Emphasis on accumulation of knowledge about what products and services are vs. accumulation of knowledge about how the organization develops, makes, and delivers its products and services.

Knowledge dissemination stage

3. Personal vs. public documentation — Assumption that knowledge is something individuals possess vs. making a point of having knowledge publicly available.

4. Formal vs. informal dissemination — Formal, prescribed, organization-wide methods of sharing learning vs. informal methods, such as role modeling and casual daily interaction.

Knowledge utilization stage

5. Incremental vs. transformative learning focus — Incremental or corrective learning vs. transformative or radical learning.

6. Focus on the design portion of the value chain vs. focus on the deliver portion — Emphasis on learning investments in engineering and production activities ("design and make" functions) vs. investments in sales and service activities ("market and deliver" functions).

All three stages

7. Focus on individual skill development vs. focus on group skill development — Development of individuals' skills vs. development of team and group skills.