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Resolution: Create a Stronger, Smarter Organization

Tired of the usual end-of-year reflections? Alongside the new year, you may be looking for a new practice to improve your organization’s competitiveness, talent, staying power, and smarts. Conduct a learning culture audit to speed your organization along the learning culture continuum and to help you get stronger now.

Tired of the usual end-of-year reflections?

Alongside the new year, you may be looking for a new practice to improve your organization’s competitiveness, talent, staying power, and smarts.

Conduct a learning culture audit to speed your organization along the learning culture continuum and to help you get stronger now.

Learning Culture Audit

A simple diagnostic can help you assess your organization and your leadership team’s orientation to learning. Examine characteristics of cultures that encourage or block learning to see how well you’re fostering an environment where everyone continuously learns and applies what they learn faster.

Consider each question carefully and think about your behavior and that of your colleagues. You might also want employees to complete such a survey to get a sense of how they feel you and the entire organization are doing.

By taking organizations through this audit, you demonstrate your willingness to ask tough questions and hear answers which are honest rather than reassuring. The self-assessment should take no more than 10 minutes and the lessons learned can focus your organization for at least the next year.

Instructions: Rank your organization on each characteristic on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being always no and 5 being always yes. At the bottom, tally your numbers to determine if your organization has more of a pro-learning or an anti-learning culture. Circle the items in each category that require special attention from you in the coming days, weeks, and year.

Pro-learning culture

1 – 5

Anti-learning culture

1 – 5

People at all levels ask questions and share stories about
successes, failures, and what they have learned.

 

Managers share information on a need-to-know basis. People keep secrets
and don’t describe how events really happened.

 

Everyone creates, keeps, and propagates stories of
individuals who have improved their own processes.

 

Everyone believes they know what to do, and they proceed on that
assumption.

 

People take at least some time to reflect on what has
happened and what may happen.

 

Little time or attention is given to understanding lessons learned from
projects.

 

People are treated as complex individuals.

 

People are treated like objects or resources without attention to their
individuality.

 

Managers encourage continuous experimentation.

 

Employees proceed with work only when they feel certain of the outcome.

 

People are hired and promoted on the basis of their capacity
for learning and adapting to new situations.

 

People are hired and promoted on the basis of their technical expertise
as demonstrated by credentials.

 

Performance reviews include and pay attention to what people
have learned.

 

Performance reviews focus almost exclusively on what people have done.

 

Senior managers participate in training programs designed for
new or high-potential employees.

 

Senior managers appear only to “kick off” management training programs.

 

Senior managers are willing to explore their underlying
values, assumptions, beliefs, and expectations.

 

Senior managers are defensive and unwilling to explore their underlying
values, assumptions, beliefs, and expectations.

 

Conversations in management meetings constantly explore the
values, assumptions, beliefs, and expectations underlying proposals and
problems.

 

Conversations tend to move quickly to blaming and scapegoating with
little attention to the process that led to a problem or how to avoid it
in the future.

 

Customer feedback is solicited, actively examined, and
included in the next operational or planning cycle.

 

Customer feedback is not solicited and is often ignored when it comes in
over the transom.

 

Managers presume that energy comes in large part from
learning and growing.

 

Managers presume that energy comes from corporate success, meaning
profits and senior management bonuses.

 

Managers think about their learning quotient, that is, their
interest in and capacity for learning new things, and the learning
quotient of their employees.

 

Managers think that they know all they need to know and that their
employees do not have the capacity to learn much.

 

Total for pro-learning culture

 

 

Total for anti-learning culture

 

The column with the highest total represents the type of culture you have today.

If you’re interested in handing out a copy of this assessment to the people you work with, download a copy. More, much more, on creating a learning culture can be found in
Creating a Learning Culture: Strategy, Technology, and Practice
(Cambridge, UK; Cambridge University Press, 2004) and in the article Create a Learning Culture (Fast Company online resource center).

Happy New Year.

——–

Marcia Conner > www.marciaconner.com

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