Workplace Learning (2019) argues that learning and development professionals have to offer more than the usual array of courses and seminars. If you want to help your company compete in today’s fast-moving world, Nigel Paine believes, you have to start building the right kind of organizational culture. That culture rests on two pillars: open communication and knowledge sharing. For Paine, these are the foundation for the kind of constant, day-to-day learning organizations need.
A learning organization can only arise within an existing workplace culture of inclusivity, trust, collaboration and committed leadership, says Nigel Paine, head of learning for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and one of the world’s foremost workplace learning gurus. His book offers a solid prescription for building an organizational learning culture. Individual chapters and case studies cover each element of the modern learning orthodoxy, making this an excellent choice for most leaders and budding L&D professionals.
- Corporate management and culture must adapt to the changing world of work.
- A learning culture depends on a strong organizational culture.
- Enlist influencers across the organization who strongly believe in learning.
- In a learning culture, learning is a natural part of work, and work fosters learning.
- MIT professor Peter Senge was an early proponent of just-in-time learning delivered in the context of employees’ work.
- Executives should lead their company’s transformation to a culture centered on learning and trust.
- Learning thrives in inclusive, psychologically safe atmospheres.
- Leaders and organizations must embrace learning technology.
An introduction to learning cultures.
Polling suggests that just one third of all employees are engaged at work. The rest? Unmotivated. Bored. Barely there. Struggling to find any meaning in the activity that takes up most of their day.
It’s a bleak picture, and for many of us it’s confirmed by first-hand experience of dysfunctional, poorly-run organizations, toxic workplace norms, and self-serving leaders. Learning, when it does occur, is often little more than an afterthought, dished up on a limited, need-to-know basis.
But, as the American poet TS Eliot once wrote, there is, at best, “only a limited value in the knowledge derived from experience.” He wrote those lines during the Second World War, when hope was in short supply. What he meant was that things can always get better, no matter how gloomy they look. If experience can “falsify,” it’s because it stops us remembering that.
This summary, like the book on which it’s based, is convinced that workplaces can improve, whatever experience teaches us. As Nigel Paine sees it, they have to. We live in a world of dramatic social, political, and technological change. To navigate this environment, organizations will have to create workforces that want to learn and teams that are as agile as they are adaptable. And to do that, they will have to create a culture of learning in which people share ideas, knowledge, and solutions.
In these summaries, you’ll learn
- What the brain can teach us about collaboration;
- Why organizations should cherish the bringers of bad news; and
- How companies as different as WD-40 and Microsoft foster learning.
Learning cultures build connections between individuals.
In 1995, Nigel Paine, the author, talked to Microsoft’s co-founder and CEO, Bill Gates, about how organizations harness the intelligence of employees.
Microsoft, Gates said, employs lots of very smart people. Thing is, though, smart people often think their view is the only one worth considering. It’s got to be, after all, since it’s the correct view! Put differently, they tend to view their smartness in a self-contained way. Everything important is in a kind of silo – their brains. That’s where they look for answers and solutions to problems.
But lots of smart people sitting in an office working on their own problems doesn’t make a company. And that’s where leaders come in. Gates’ role at Microsoft, he said, was to make sure that one plus one plus one added up to more than three. That the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. That knowledge wasn’t siloed away in individual heads, but shared around.
Years later, when Paine started working on his book, that thought bubbled back up to the surface of his mind. Gates, he realized, had distilled his view of workplace learning into a single idea. That idea is also at the heart of this summary. It says that workplace learning is collective.
We’ll be exploring that idea at scale – mostly, we’ll be talking about large multinational organizations. But we can start with an analogy that illuminates collective learning at a smaller level: the brain.
There are, roughly, 100 billion neurons, or brain cells, inside your head. Each neuron can make 1,000 unique connections. Those connections are the seat of knowledge and intelligence. It’s the density of connections that drives cognition. Viewed at this microscopic level, “learning” is what happens when you build new connections. Billions of neurons on their own don’t cut it – it’s the synapses between them that make the difference.
Organizations, Paine thinks, work the same way. Individuals, like neurons, are wonderfully complex cells containing all kinds of potential. But organizational intelligence and knowledge emerges in the spaces between them. The know-how and smarts of each cell has to be activated, and that happens when individuals are connected to one another. When they share knowledge and communicate.
An organization which ensures that individuals are better connected and more willing to share, Paine concludes, is an organization with a functioning learning culture. For him, that’s what Gates was describing back in 1995, even if Microsoft’s CEO didn’t use that term. And fostering that kind of culture is still the best way to build effective organizations today. As the Canadian scientist Donald Hebb famously put it, “cells that wire together, fire together.”
You can’t fix problems without honest communication.
Let’s pause for a second and look at things from a different angle. How does an organization that fails to foster a communicative, sharing-based learning culture work? The short answer: it doesn’t.
Let’s see why. We’ll take a hypothetical company, but you might recognize the kinds of problems that come up. Maybe you’ve even worked for a company that was run like this.
Let’s say this company has product – we’ll just call it Product X – that’s not doing too well. Actually, it’s worse than that. It’s tanking. It’s a loss-accumulating dud. In short, Product X needs to be axed. Lots of people know that, but nothing happens. Years go by and the company carries on pumping out Product Xes until, eventually, there’s a multi-million dollar hole in its spreadsheet. The question, here, is simple – why can’t anyone recognize this unpleasant truth and correct this mistake?
Oftentimes, things play out this way.
The folks who know the problem best – plant managers, say, or the people who deal directly with customers – also know that raising the alarm isn’t going to win them many friends. No one wants to write the memo that says that fixing Product X is going to cost more than any profit it might feasibly generate. But even if they do write that memo, it won’t go straight to the top of the organization.
First, it has to pass through the hands of middle management – the people who did the production and marketing studies which said Product X was a great idea. They’re reluctant to be the bearers of bad news, too, but they’re also dealing with sunken costs. Recognizing a problem now means admitting that their original analysis was wrong. So what do they do? They send a watered-down message up to their superiors. Sure, there’s a hitch, they say, but it’s nothing they can’t fix.
By the time decision-makers hear about it, the problem just doesn’t sound that serious. That’s handy because they don’t want to admit that they signed off on a bad idea either. And so the message that comes back down the organization is as bewildering as it is demoralizing: carry on doing what you’re doing. From the bottom up, it looks like the people in charge are clueless.
But it’s not like you can say that either! Organizations like our hypothetical company and its real-world counterparts develop norms which say that you can’t confront company policies and objectives – or the top managers who back them. Communicating awkward truths upwards violates those norms, which leads to employees hiding mistakes and soft-pedaling problems. Once that’s happened, things get really bad. Now, you have to violate norms and admit to camouflaging problems. A few selfless whistleblowers might have the stomach for that, but most employees just aren’t going to risk their reputations – or paychecks – to save a dysfunctional company.
Micromanagers stifle initiative and sap motivation.
Every two years, Gallup cavasses around a million American workers to create a representative survey of people’s feelings about work. And every two years Gallup finds that half the workforce is disengaged. One in two people, in other words, is just there. Apart from the paycheck, they see their work as meaningless. A further 15 percent of workers actively resent their employer. That leaves just 35 percent who describe their work as engaging and rewarding.
If these numbers were smaller, it would be possible to chalk that dissatisfaction up to people having bad attitudes, or being lazy, or some other individual failing. But when two thirds of all employees feel the same way? Well, that’s an organizational problem.
We can take a look at a bank the author worked with to get a sense of that problem.
This – nameless – bank installed tracking software to monitor its call center staff. This wasn’t even good software, though. When workers were checking information, or consulting databases, it assumed they were idle. Supervisors knew the software was faulty, but they had their orders, so they reprimanded people anyway. Did productivity improve? No, of course not! Staff gamed the system. They found ways to trick the software. Lots of time was wasted and trust evaporated. Now imagine if Gallup had come along and asked them how they felt about their jobs….
This is a variant of the problem we encountered when we looked at the fictional maker of Product Xes. Call it the command-and-control model.
This model assumes there’s a leadership, which commands, and a majority that’s controlled, with little scope for autonomous action. For a long time, this model worked pretty well. For organizations, anyway – it was never great for workers. That’s because it’s a good model for, say, making cars in a stable market with few foreign competitors. But that world doesn’t exist anymore. Digitalization, globalization, individualization – there are lots of big words to describe recent social changes, but they all boil down to the same thing. The world is faster, more complex, and less stable. And in this turbulent world, the skill that really matters is the ability to rethink and unlearn and learn again.
But if you instill a culture that involves little more than telling people what to do and when to do it, you’re inhibiting that skill. Yes-men and yes-women will do the bare minimum – just enough, usually, to keep their jobs. The upshot: no one trusts them to do the right thing. That’s when management doubles down on command-and-control policies like that morale-sapping surveillance software. Or it enforces conformist norms which stifle criticism – and people’s ability to address and fix problems.
So what’s the takeaway here? Well, simply put, everything’s connected. People with little autonomy don’t find meaning in their work, so they do the bare minimum and keep their heads down. That’s bad news if you’re operating in a fast-moving, ever-changing environment: as we saw, top-down, command-and-control organizations are really, really bad at problem solving.
Successful companies don’t punish mistakes – they learn from them.
Okay, now that we’ve learned how not to run an organization, let’s shift gears. What should you be doing to keep your company agile, motivated, and capable of rapid problem solving? Let’s take a look at how one of the world’s most successful companies does it.
WD-40 is a remarkable organization. For decades, it made just one product – the blue-and-yellow cans of industrial lubricant found in households, garages, and workshops the world over. More recently, it acquired some compatible brands like 3-in-One, a multipurpose oil. Fundamentally, though, not that much has changed. WD-40 found a winning strategy and stuck to it. The results speak for themselves. Since 1997, the year current CEO Garry Ridge took over, its market capitalization increased from $250 million to $4.5 billion. So what’s WD-40 secret?
The short answer can be found in a 2016 article in the Harvard Business Review, which described the organization as being driven by a “learning-obsessed company culture.” Let’s break that down.
One of Ridge’s favorite ideas is the learning moment. A learning moment can be positive or negative. Small or large. Really, it’s anything that went better or worse than expected, whether drastically or slightly. Point is, when that happens, you share it. You tell people what you were trying to do and what you expected to happen and what actually happened. And, of course, what you learned. That’s the most common question you’ll hear in WD-40 meetings: “What did you learn today?”
Learning moments are part of a broader company culture around honesty. All staff are expected to admit mistakes, not hide them. The company, meanwhile, pledges – this is an explicit policy – not to punish them for those mistakes. Being open about what you got wrong, Ridge believes, helps both you and your colleagues learn. What is punished, by contrast, are cover-ups, blame games, and consistently failing, or refusing, to learn from mistakes. Those behaviors do result in dismissal.
The other key concepts in WD-40’s culture are openness and transparency. Every WD-40 employee, for example, has access to what’s known as the Blue Vault. That’s a huge repository of technical information about every aspect of the company’s operations, freely accessible to all at any time. And they’re expected to use it, too, at their own initiative. Employees sign a pledge when they’re hired in which they commit to certain actions. As the pledge itself puts it, “If I need to know, I’m responsible for finding out.” Individuals, in other words, are encouraged to act and learn autonomously.
It’s also made clear that what they learn isn’t to be siloed away in their heads. If they think someone else might need to know something, they have a duty to share that knowledge with them – again, at their own initiative. As Ridge sees it, this is how horizontal, peer-to-peer learning cultures are built.
Transparency is the final piece of the puzzle. WD-40 doesn’t do back-room deals, or negotiate salaries behind closed doors. Every bit of financial information, from pay to investment and revenue data, is published for staff, meaning there are no obvious injustices or unfair discrepancies.
Add all that up and you get an efficient learning culture and a happy team. Like Gallup, WD-40 conducts a survey about workplace attitudes every two years. Theirs makes for happier reading, though. As of 2020, 98 percent of employees said they feel engaged and motivated at work!
Successful leaders don’t focus on answers – they ask the right questions.
In 2014, Microsoft appointed a new CEO – Satya Nadella. He was a surprise choice. There was no question that the former head of the company’s cloud services division was competent. But he’d flown under the radar. For many, he didn’t look like a leader. He wasn’t bold and brash; he listened more than he talked. That, though, was exactly what the organization needed.
Thing was, Microsoft was falling behind. In its heyday, it had been the largest company in the world by market capitalization. That honor now belonged to its competitor: Apple.
Steve Ballmer, Nadella’s predecessor, ran Microsoft with a steady hand. Revenue grew, but more slowly than in the past. More worryingly, “old” technologies accounted for the largest part of that revenue. The world was changing, too – fast. Consumers were gravitating away from desktop PCs and embracing smartphones. When Ballmer saw an iPhone back in 2007, he predicted that it would flop – no one wanted a phone without a proper keyboard, he said. It was a symbolic moment. Microsoft, under Ballmer, had been blindsided by technological innovation.
Apple, by contrast, was roaring into the future. By 2017, two thirds of its revenue came from iPhones – the carriers of the social media revolution. While Microsoft stuck to old models and sold its software, Apple gave it away for free. That meant more people updated their operating systems, which made it easier and cheaper for Apple to provide support. Microsoft, meanwhile, had the unenviable job of supporting multiple iterations of its operating system, some a decade old.
For Nadella, these were symptoms of a larger problem. As Bill Gates told the author, Microsoft employs a lot of very smart people, and smart people are often convinced that they know better than others. But you can’t steamroll people into buying something because you believe it’s a smart design and a great product. You have to make things people want. Things that help them and make life easier. And to do that, you have to see where they’re coming from. To understand what excites them and what frustrates them. In short, you have to listen. That, Nadella thought, was Microsoft’s original mission – a mission the company had forgotten.
At the beginning of his tenure, he asked all senior managers to read a book called Nonviolent Communication by American psychologist Marshall Rosenberg. In that book, Rosenberg lays out an empathetic communication model in which our own perspective is complemented by the perspective of others. For example, a statement beginning with “I feel” or “I need” is automatically paired with an inquiry about what you feel and what you need. And rather than handing out orders, leaders within Microsoft were now encouraged to ask questions, like “Would you be willing to…?”
These cultural changes at the top helped rekindle the spirit of curiosity that had once defined Microsoft. Slowly but surely under Nadella, it became less of a know-it-all company and more of a learning company. The result was an organizational culture that was open to meaning, reference, and knowledge from outside the company – from the world of its customers. The result? Microsoft is back. Under Nadella, it’s added $250 billion of value and tripled its income!
Corporate management and culture must adapt to the changing world of work.
The volatility, pace and complexity of work accelerates. To survive shifting conditions, organizations must transform. Learning lies at the heart of that transformation.
“The evidence is increasingly clear, that self-regulated learning, coupled with creativity and social skills, build flourishing workplaces and individual fulfillment.”
Only organizations that succeed in creating learning cultures where self-directed employees develop continuously will survive the next decade. Optimistic, empowered teams comprising lifelong learners who collaborate in an atmosphere of trust are the antidote to the relentless pace of change and disruption.
A learning culture depends on a strong organizational culture.
CEOs create organizational cultures through their behaviors, values and priorities. A learning culture can then emerge to complement the organizational culture, and to help firms adapt and change in response to external conditions. A learning culture can only exist inside a healthy, truthful and empathetic organizational culture.
“Poor organizational cultures with a lack of trust and disengaged staff, with a climate of fear at their heart, will never build the conditions for a learning culture, or sustain one.”
A learning culture prevents the organizational culture from stagnating. Thus, leaders should put learning at the very center of the organization. Learning must always maintain a direct relevance to the competencies needed at work: It should always aim to boost performance. It should come on-demand, tailored and – where possible – as a natural part of the flow of a person’s work.
Enlist influencers across the organization who strongly believe in learning.
Leaders, especially, must visibly demonstrate support for the effort of building a learning culture. Managers must grant team members time for formal and informal learning as well as reflection. Learning happens everywhere and all the time, but learners must also take the time to think and talk about learning, and find ways to apply new skills or knowledge.
“Learning cultures do not emerge from fatter course catalogues.”
Learning and development (L&D) professionals have to move away from the old paradigm of administering courses through a Learning Management System (LMS) and toward supporting self-directed learning. Today’s L&D departments curate content, teach learners how to use learning technologies, emphasize reflection and discussion, and ensure that the right resources are available to support teams and individuals in their development. Such a culture deliberately intertwines learning with the everyday business of the firm.
In a learning culture, learning is a natural part of work, and work fosters learning.
No single approach to instituting a learning culture exists, but some practices and principles apply to every organization. No matter the industry, sector or country, employees today must collaborate and learn in a fully digital environment, where knowledge and idea-sharing come second nature, and employees learn continuously while remaining productive. Organizations should use data and analysis to make better decisions about what learning to emphasize. Leaders should determine success metrics, and define the behaviors and attitudes that learning offers need to support.
“Always begin with business measures of success, and then deconstruct that success back to behaviors, values and attitudes.”
A learning culture requires motivated employees who wouldn’t consider asking or waiting for a traditional course. Instead, they research online or on social media platforms, read books and reports, listen to podcasts or watch videos, ask peers, attend evening seminars or find help in other ways. They embrace challenges, and their development prevents creeping organizational decline and decrepitude.
MIT professor Peter Senge was an early proponent of just-in-time learning delivered in the context of employees’ work.
MIT professor Peter Senge articulated the notion of a learning culture in his best-selling book, The Fifth Discipline, first published in 1990. Senge was an early proponent of just-in-time learning delivered in the context of employees’ work. Nurturing an aspirational mind-set, he argued, would help workers see disruption and change through a prism of opportunity and creativity rather than anxiety or complacency.
Senge championed quick, relevant micro-learning, but also implored learners and leaders to recognize when a problem required slowing down to explore its complexity and to discover root causes. He especially advocated deep and wide thinking about challenges involving interdependencies.
Despite the popularity of Senge’s ideas, learning-centered organizations have failed to materialize in large numbers. Realizing the importance of learning hasn’t put a dent in employee disengagement nor appreciably raised productivity in any provable way. Indeed, organizations still have a long way to go, especially in terms of acknowledging interdependencies, embracing system thinking and in grounding those systems in learning.
“You grow the ability and productivity of the workforce by increasing its capacity to learn and, in parallel, you develop the habit of sharing knowledge the right way through an organization.”
Senge incorporates business theorist Chris Argyris’s double-loop learning into his work – a vital ingredient to true learning. Double-loop learning emphasizes root cause analysis and deep reflection, making it a compelling and appropriate approach in a complex business environment. Yet modern, harried workers may have, on average, less than half an hour per week to devote to pure learning and associated deep thinking.
Executives should lead their company’s transformation to a culture centered on learning and trust.
W. Edwards Deming’s Total Quality Management (TQM) and continuous improvement approach put trust, shared purpose, knowledge sharing, collaboration and quality at the heart of a learning organization.
In the 1980s, a better understanding of human motivation arose based on psychology professors Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory (SDT). SDT has helped describe the essential motivational ingredients and conditions for learning: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Another crucial factor is “group flow” – a heightened form of workplace collaboration based on psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow. The term describes a state of absorption in work or learning that is so all-encompassing that time and other considerations evaporate.
WD-40 was a successful but sleepy company in 1997 when CEO Garry Ridge took over. Over the next two decades he led in growing WD-40’s market capitalization from $250 million to $1.9 billion. He accomplished much of this by deliberately changing the culture to one that emphasizes curiosity, experimentation, trust and learning. Along the way, engagement levels tripled.
WD-40 infuses learning into everything: every meeting, every conversation. Above all else, managers coach and advise. Learning maps to values and goals. Leaders rate employees on how well they exemplify those values. Ridge refuses to release quarterly results, insisting instead that investors gauge the firm’s progress based on longer-term trends. Nevertheless, everyone shares challenging goals that require relentless commitment. WD-40 also emphasizes purpose, candor, autonomy and accountability.
CEOs hoping to emulate WD-40’s success should, like Ridge, lead in their firm’s transformation to a culture centered on learning and trust. High transparency, collaboration and tolerance for mistakes are a must, as well as patience and a long-term outlook. Organizations should encourage innovation, idea and knowledge sharing, align incentives to the culture, and insist that employees seek 100% clarity in their goals. They should base rewards on individual and team contributions.
Learning thrives in inclusive, psychologically safe atmospheres.
Technology and innovation will change virtually every role in every firm by 2030. In pace with the revolutions occurring elsewhere in work and business, a learning revolution must also take place. Learning must become a natural, reflexive, everyday way of living and working.
“The revolution in work needs to be paralleled by a revolution in learning.”
For learning to occur, organizations must make the workplace inclusive and psychologically safe. Firms must make learning real, with concrete practices, including a no-compromise approach to knowledge sharing and collaboration. Moreover, leaders must constantly reinforce the primacy of learning by supporting self-directed learners with systems to aid them in finding (or receiving) personalized materials; by integrating learning into the flow of work, and facilitating social, peer-to-peer learning.
Leaders and organizations must embrace learning technology.
As profound as recent change has felt, it will seem insignificant compared with the change that the ongoing digital revolution, more powerful artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will effect. Generation Z – the next generation due to enter the workforce – represents the first cohort to grow up entirely digital. People’s smartphones connect them not only socially but also to learning content. No longer can organizations afford to remain technology backwaters.
“Any attempt to move forward without fully embracing the learning potential of technology, and acknowledging the massive leaps forward that artificial intelligence will make to the process of personalizing and supporting the learning needs of all employees in the workplace, would be to do this topic a grave disservice.”
In learning organizations, first-generation learning management systems have already given way to modern, fully digital and often AI-enabled systems. In these firms, advanced learning systems serve personalized learning content to self-directed learners at the precise time they need it to maintain and improve their performance. These platforms personalize learning much like Netflix recommends shows and movies that its algorithms think you might enjoy.
Before purchasing or licensing a learning platform, understand the problem you expect the platform to solve. Plan, test, assess and make adjustments. Choose easy-to-use tools and experiment with them on a small scale before releasing them enterprise-wide. Then, find champions and collaborators to help spread the technology across the organization.
One-size-fits-all learning will succumb to individual, just-in-time learning, delivered in small chunks as required on the job. Learning will come from more sources, including peers using platforms like Slack, which encourage and enable every employee to create and share learning content. Current and future learning technology support self-directed learning, which in turn, allows firms to keep pace with today’s rate of change and disruption.
The most important thing to remember/take away from all this is:
Learning is about adaptation and problem-solving. It’s about identifying issues and coming up with fixes. What it’s not about – not in the world of work, anyway – is solitary geniuses plowing lonely furrows. Within organizations, solutions are the fruit of collaboration. It’s what happens between people when they come together and share insights and know-how. Leaders can’t make all of that happen on their own. What they can do, though, is foster cultures of curiosity and build frameworks in which individuals and teams can learn from one another.
About the author
Nigel Paine worked as head of learning for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). He now leads the doctoral program for CLOs at the University of Pennsylvania and consults with leaders in organizations worldwide to develop learning strategies.
Nigel Paine is a change-focused leader with a worldwide reputation and extensive experience in leadership and consultancy with public service broadcasters, SMEs, global industry players, government and education institutions. He is the author of Building Leadership Development Programmes and The Learning Challenge.
As the Head of Training and Development at BBC, he built one of the most successful learning and development operations in the UK. He now runs his own consultancy, which focuses on leadership, creativity, innovation and e-learning, working with companies in Europe, Brazil, Australia and the US.
He is an academic director and member of the international advisory board at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, board member of Management Issues and a Masie Learning Fellow. Frequent conference speaker, Nigel has also written many articles for Training Zone and contributed and edited two books for the internationally respected Masie Centre think tank.
In recognition of his contribution to learning, he received a Global Learning Leader Award at the 2006 Masie Learning Conference in Orlando, and the Colin Corder Award at the Learning Awards in London in February 2012 (The Learning and Performance Institute).
Corporate Culture, Education, Human Resources, Leadership Training, Personnel Management
Table of Contents
Chapter – 00: Introduction;
Section – ONE: Exploring the concepts of learning culture and learning organization;
Chapter – 01: What is a learning culture?;
Chapter – 02: Where did learning culture come from?;
Chapter – 03: Senge and The Fifth Discipline;
Chapter – 04: Bob Garratt and The Learning Organization;
Chapter – 05: What are the core components of a learning culture?;
Section – TWO: Case studies – Learning culture in action;
Chapter – 06: Lubricating learning – A case study of the WD-40 Company;
Chapter – 07: Taking the medicine – Novartis and curiosity;
Chapter – 08: happy Ltd and HT2 – Learning culture in action;
Chapter – 09: Dressing up a learning culture – Cotton On Group;
Section – THREE: Building a learning culture – A gyroscope for organizational effectiveness;
Chapter – 10: Work and learning;
Chapter – 11: Why technology is an essential component of a learning culture;
Chapter – 12: What are the essential components of a learning culture?
For a company to compete effectively in today’s business environment, its employees need to be adaptive and agile so they can develop the required skills and knowledge. To achieve this, L&D professionals must create a culture of workplace learning that encourages employees to constantly develop. This means moving away from the traditional approach of simply offering a catalogue of courses to embedding learning in every part of the company. Workplace Learning is a practical guide to all aspects of developing a culture of continuous workplace learning, from how to introduce and implement this culture to how to develop it.
Showing that learning is not finite and is instead something that all employees should be doing continuously throughout their careers, Workplace Learning covers how to identify key areas to focus the most effort on, measure success and determine next steps. It also outlines how to use technology to support workplace learning from MOOCs through to apps such as Knewton and Degreed. Packed with case studies from organizations who have effectively established outstanding workplace learning including Microsoft, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), HT2 and The Happy Company, this is essential reading for L&D professionals looking to make a real difference to the development of their staff and the future success of their organizations.
“I loved this book. It is right on the note. In a world that doesn’t change, there is no need to learn. For creatures of all kinds learning serves to adapt us to our surroundings, so in a world of daily change we must become everyday learners. Everyday learners can only flourish in a culture that visibly values learning – one where the essentially playful, exploratory, and collaborative nature of learning is celebrated. A culture where people are engaged in learning. Read this book if you want to work out how to build such a culture of learning.” ― Nick Shackleton-Jones PA Consulting
“Workplace Learning is a powerful book that makes a compelling and well-researched case for reviving-and modernizing-the concept of the ‘Learning Organization’. Building an organization that has learning as a habit, and sharing insight as a pre-requisite, is the easiest and most cost-effective means of sustaining innovation and unleashing creativity. This book provides the building blocks to achieve this and is an important addition to the talent agenda.” ― Annie McKee, Author of How to Be Happy at Work
“Nigel Paine’s excellent book provides a deep dive into issues of learning culture that should be the prime focus of every Chief Executive and every learning leader across the globe. In today’s world, the speed at which organizations learn is their only guarantee for success. This well-researched book presents a compelling case for organizations to create a culture of continuous workplace learning. It outlines the major workforce strategies organizations need to survive and thrive.” ― Charles Jennings, co-founder, 70:20:10 Institute
“The history of organizations that have succeeded in sustaining growth and high performance over the long term suggests that one of the fundamental enablers is having a culture of learning. This insightful and immensely practical book sets out a compelling case for building a learning culture, and more importantly, shows how to do it.” ― Gillian Pillans. Director of Research: Corporate Research Forum
“This book puts its finger on something I have long held to be hugely important: the significant difference a learning culture contributes to performance at both an individual and organizational level. I would recommend that every learning leader reads this book and absorb its lessons. It is an easy, yet profound, read and anyone interesting in strengthening the talent agenda and increasing the power and impact of learning in their organization should grab this book with both hands. I think that it will have a significant impact on large numbers of staff in L&D, HR, talent and organizational development.” ― Elliott Masie Host and Curator of the Learning Conference, Corporate Learning Expert and Guru, Head of the Masie Center Saratoga Springs NY
“As we evolve from a predictable “Find-it-Out” world to an unpredictable “Figure-it-Out” one, the need to cultivate a learning culture in organizations becomes increasingly acute. Thankfully, in this masterful book, Nigel Paine has created a blueprint to do just that. Within these pages you will find a sound synthesis of the theory and research on what is required to build a learning culture and practical case studies that bring these ideas to life in a clear and compelling way. If you’re learning strategy calls for building a more responsive, resilient and agile organization, ignore this book at your own peril.” ― Prof. Tony O’Driscoll, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University
“In Workplace Learning, Nigel Paine has written an enjoyable and thought-provoking work on how organizations can thrive when they focus on building a learning culture.This book is not only relevant, but also powerful in making the case that culture is still one of the most important attributes when fostering continuous learning, which is so critical in the workplace now and in the future. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.” ― Kelly Palmer, Chief Learning Officer, Degreed
“Nigel Paine’s excellent book provides a deep dive into issues of learning culture that should be the prime focus of every Chief Executive and every learning leader across the globe. In today’s world, the speed at which organizations learn is their only guarantee for success. This well-researched book presents a compelling case for organizations to create a culture of continuous workplace learning. It outlines the major workforce strategies organizations need to survive and thrive.”, Charles Jennings, co-founder, 70:20:10 Institute
“This book puts its finger on something I have long held to be hugely important: the significant difference a learning culture contributes to performance at both an individual and organizational level. I would recommend that every learning leader reads this book and absorb its lessons. It is an easy, yet profound, read and anyone interesting in strengthening the talent agenda and increasing the power and impact of learning in their organization should grab this book with both hands. I think that it will have a significant impact on large numbers of staff in L&D, HR, talent and organizational development.”, Elliott Masie Host and Curator of the Learning Conference, Corporate Learning Expert and Guru, Head of the Masie Center Saratoga Springs NY
“I loved this book. It is right on the note. In a world that doesn’t change, there is no need to learn. For creatures of all kinds learning serves to adapt us to our surroundings, so in a world of daily change we must become everyday learners. Everyday learners can only flourish in a culture that visibly values learning – one where the essentially playful, exploratory, and collaborative nature of learning is celebrated. A culture where people are engaged in learning. Read this book if you want to work out how to build such a culture of learning.”, Nick Shackleton-Jones PA Consulting
“The history of organizations that have succeeded in sustaining growth and high performance over the long term suggests that one of the fundamental enablers is having a culture of learning. This insightful and immensely practical book sets out a compelling case for building a learning culture, and more importantly, shows how to do it.”, Gillian Pillans. Director of Research: Corporate Research Forum
“In Workplace Learning, Nigel Paine has written an enjoyable and thought-provoking work on how organizations can thrive when they focus on building a learning culture.This book is not only relevant, but also powerful in making the case that culture is still one of the most important attributes when fostering continuous learning, which is so critical in the workplace now and in the future. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.”, Kelly Palmer, Chief Learning Officer, Degreed
“Workplace Learning is a powerful book that makes a compelling and well-researched case for reviving-and modernizing-the concept of the ‘Learning Organization’. Building an organization that has learning as a habit, and sharing insight as a pre-requisite, is the easiest and most cost-effective means of sustaining innovation and unleashing creativity. This book provides the building blocks to achieve this and is an important addition to the talent agenda.”, Annie McKee, Author of How to Be Happy at Work
“As we evolve from a predictable “Find-it-Out” world to an unpredictable “Figure-it-Out” one, the need to cultivate a learning culture in organizations becomes increasingly acute. Thankfully, in this masterful book, Nigel Paine has created a blueprint to do just that. Within these pages you will find a sound synthesis of the theory and research on what is required to build a learning culture and practical case studies that bring these ideas to life in a clear and compelling way. If you’re learning strategy calls for building a more responsive, resilient and agile organization, ignore this book at your own peril.”, Prof. Tony O’Driscoll, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University