How to Create and Grow a Learning Culture

In this series, we’ve explored both the challenges you may face when establishing a learning culture in your organization and ways to overcome those challenges. In this final post, we’ll pull together all of these actions and set out a summary guide to inform your strategy as you develop a culture of learning for your organization.

But first, let’s recap the series so far:

  1. We drew inspiration from The Office while asking: What is a learning culture and why is it important?
  2. We looked to The Good Place for illustrations showing what a good learning culture looks like.
  3. The cast of Queer Eye helped us explore six barriers to establishing a learning culture.
  4. The characters from Parks & Recreation showed us how to help employees embrace lifelong learning.
  5. We compared approaches to providing learning resources to scenes from the show Arrested Development.
  6. We looked at how organizational processes can be a barrier, taking lessons from Monsters, Inc.
  7. The denizens of Middle Earth helped us think about overcoming the challenges of change in our organizations.
  8. We went Back to the Future of time pressures and organizational priorities.
  9. We were Home Alone with planning learning and identifying training needs.

And in this post we’ll bring everything together with help from some Marvel superheroes!

Learning content needs to be accessible and available.

To support a positive learning culture, learners need to have easy access to learning content and experiences. In fact, it should be as easy for your learners to find and access the learning materials they need as it is for Ant-Man to sneak into a villain's secret laboratory.

First, content needs to actually exist before it can be shared. Curating freely available content and using licensed content libraries can augment specialized content that’s developed in house.

Second, the content needs to be accessible. That is, people need to be able to find it. A learning experience platform with robust search capability can help with this, as can good user experience design and information architecture.

Plan for structure and support.

Learners also need structure and support to help them transition to a more self-directed approach to learning. Competency frameworks, job profiles, and learning plans all help to provide scaffolding as the learner starts to shape their own path to improvement.

Unlike Mystique, your learners can’t transform into whoever they like. They can only be themselves, so personalization and recommendations are helpful in supporting them to plan their learning.

Line managers play an important role in supporting and directing learners and providing space for them to learn. Coaching and mentoring help with direction and identifying areas of required development.

Invest time in people and processes.

People and processes play significant roles in developing a positive learning culture. Processes can often incentivize short-term productivity over learning activity—or they can make it difficult for people to take time to learn. Cultural change means looking at these processes to ensure that learning is incentivised and barriers to learning are removed.

Captain America's leadership of the Avengers provides an example of integrity and honor. Leaders in your organization may not carry a shield, but they can be a positive example of taking time to learn and seeking improvement. Getting buy-in from senior leaders is vital to developing an organization wide positive learning culture.

Motivation to learn and a growth mindset are also an important part of developing learning culture. Make use of stories of learning success, and encouragement from managers, to help encourage learners about the benefit of learning and their capacity to improve.

How can analytics help build and support a learning culture?

We’ve covered how learning analytics can help in lots of specific ways throughout this series. In summary, analytics gives access to the data that can underpin a lot of the work to cultivate a positive learning culture, and to the data that can be used to analyze the effectiveness of that work.

Remember, it’s difficult to know what improvement looks like if you haven’t defined and measured it. That’s why we’ve highlighted several key ways you can use analytics to support creating and growing a learning culture across your organization.

Learning analytics can help:

  • Prove the impact of learning, which means you can show people concrete results and motivate them to make learning a priority.
  • Identify how strong the learning culture is across various areas of the organization, enabling you to foster and reinforce those areas where learning culture can use a boost.
  • Monitor how learners access learning content and resources, and how successful they are at doing so. You also can identify when people access and use a certain learning activity, which lets you highlight the most effective days and times to promote that learning
  • Pinpoint areas of your organization where learning isn’t happening as it should, perhaps due to process issues or inaccessible resources.
  • Highlight success stories of those in the organization who have tried and seen the benefits of self-directed learning.

And That’s a Wrap!

So that’s it! Arrange access to and availability of learning experiences and materials. Set up structures and support systems. And pay attention to processes and people. Do all that, and you’ll be well on your way to a learning culture transformation.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is used here only to illustrate the examples in this blog post. Watershed is not associated with, sponsored by, or affiliated with Marvel Studios and/or Walt Disney Pictures.

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