Support Organizational Learning Competency Domain

Domain Summary

Team learning sets the conditions for organizational learning. Leaders support organizational learning by analyzing organizational learning capacity, promoting a shared vision, fostering knowledge emergence, and ensuring knowledge diffusion. Supporting organizational learning makes organizational change possible and enables competitive advantage. The Support Organizational Learning competency domain is assessed for RBLP-T certification.

Support Organizational Learning Articles

Professional reading about Supporting Organizational Learning.

Support Organizational Learning Leader Tasks:

Task 1: Analyze organizational learning capacity.

  • Organizations learn from their experience, both good and bad. Without organizational learning, there can be no organizational change. Organizations that fail to learn will often repeat the same mistakes.
  • The surest way for an organization to gain and maintain competitive advantage is to learn more and to learn faster than the competition. Organizations that generate the most, and the best new ideas, typically win.
  • Organizations use knowledge exploitation to continuously improve products, services, processes, and procedures. Organizations use knowledge exploration to innovate new ideas that result in entirely new products, services, processes, and procedures.

Task 2: Promote a shared vision.

  • A good vision describes what the organization wants to be in the future. When senior leaders promote an aspirational vision, it provides context for new ideas. A bold vision sets the agenda for organizational learning and change.
  • Promoting a shared vision is an ongoing process for senior leaders. Having a shared vision helps to create a sense of common identity and purpose. When an organization’s vision is shared, it gets people moving together in the right direction.
  • Organizations realize their visions by building a good culture and executing on sound strategy. Culture and strategy are complementary.  
  • Culture is defined by the shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that govern how people behave in the organization. An organization’s culture can only change slowly over time. Learning organizations execute strategy better because they are continually improving and innovating.

Task 3: Foster knowledge emergence.

  • Leaders at all levels should be “on the lookout” for new ideas. When more people have a voice in the process, the ideas that emerge will be better informed and creative.
  • New ideas for improvement and innovation typically emerge from the bottom-up in organizations. The front-line teams in the closest contact with the organization’s products, services, and customers are often the best source of new ideas.
  • Leaders need to challenge the status quo and encourage people to acknowledge when something is not working. Failures are a valuable resource for learning. Leaders should routinely ask, “Is this the best we can do?”
  • Leaders should identify and empower knowledge catalysts. Knowledge catalysts are usually subject-matter-experts in their line of work and are not always in positions of leadership. They are solutions-oriented, and they often recognize problems and challenges before others do.
  • For knowledge to emerge within organizations, leaders must remove the obstacles that stand in the way. Front-line supervisors and middle managers that are unwilling to embrace change are an obstacle to knowledge emergence.

Task 4: Ensure knowledge diffusion.

  • Once new ideas for improvement and innovation emerge, they must be effectively and efficiently shared across the organization. Knowledge diffusion ensures that learning is not isolated. Organizations have “learned” when new ideas are codified into the organization’s policies, practices, and culture.
  • New ideas will also come up against entrenched mental models when shared across the organization. Leaders at all levels can support knowledge sharing by helping people embrace the change that new ideas are certain to cause.
  • Knowledge networks are essential for knowledge diffusion. Knowledge networks are collections of individuals and teams that share knowledge across organizational boundaries. Senior leaders must enable the lines of communication that make a knowledge network possible.
  • In the same way that constructive dialogue facilitates team learning, constructive dialogue is also essential for knowledge sharing. Knowledge networks can be supported by technology; however, technology is not a replacement for constructive dialogue.
  • A community of practice is a group of people informally bound together by shared expertise and passion for a joint enterprise. A community of practice may not work together or even be in the same organization. However, they share and explore their ideas to solve problems, develop procedures, and establish common standards to learn together.

Supporting Knowledge:

Know the relationship between organizational learning and organizational change.

Know the relationship between organizational learning and competitive advantage.

Know the relationship between knowledge exploitation and knowledge exploration.

Know why promoting a shared vision supports organizational learning.

Know how to promote a shared vision.

Know the relationship between an organization’s vision and strategy.

Know the relationship between an organization’s strategy and culture.

Know why fostering knowledge emergence supports organizational learning.

Know how to foster knowledge emergence.

Know the relationship between knowledge catalysts and knowledge emergence.

Know why ensuring knowledge diffusion supports organizational learning.

Know how to ensure knowledge diffusion.

Know the relationship between knowledge networks and knowledge diffusion.

Know the relationship between communities of practice and knowledge networks.

Updated 8/17/2020