Learn From Your Mistakes: That’s How You Use Organizational Learning

Do you build a wall up around you if you make a mistake? Can nobody know that it happened? And do you just continue steadily with your work tasks? If that is a general tendency for you and the rest of the employees at your workplace, you will have a hard time learning together and managing your work tasks more effectively.

Organizational learning takes place when companies and institutions learn from their mistakes (Elkjær 2017) and when you create, maintain, and transfer knowledge internally in the organization.

If you have a culture like that where the colleagues aren’t very keen on sharing their mistakes so that others can avoid them, it means that you have a culture that restricts organizational learning. These mechanisms are also called organizational defensive routines (Argyris 1999). 

Do you, on the other hand, have an open culture where no one is judged? Then you instead have a culture that promotes organizational learning. That’s why you will be better at performing your work tasks together more effectively – for the benefit of the whole organization. 

Openness is generally a good thing if you want to promote organizational learning and develop your competences. But how can you bring the openness more into play specifically?

That’s How You Can Promote the Organizational Learning:
 

  • Learn more about your production processes. Are there, for instance, certain places where you always come to a standstill? Maybe your colleagues have the knowledge and ideas to how you make headway faster, so it doesn’t happen again. Or how much time do you have to spend on specific tasks? What is always given the highest priority? Etc.
  • Share your knowledge digitally. Is the whole organization going to learn about, e.g. the GDPR regulation and how you especially will have to be attentive in your workday? Then create a learning module in your LMS system and remember to make it accessible to everyone and make it exciting with e.g. game mechanics.
  • Remember also to share manuals digitally in the organization’s filing system. In that way, every employee – new as old – can check how to use your internal message system, if you have a press policy that needs to be followed or more department specifically how to edit a photo in Photoshop. Write also your own manual on how you have experienced that the processes fit into your workflow in precisely your organization. Many manuals can also be made into digital learning modules, so it gets easier for the employees to get through it, together with the new knowledge is anchored better.
  • Invite other departments or new employees that are not necessarily a part of your team to oral presentations. It gives an interdisciplinary understanding and eases the collaboration if you have to make projects together in the future.