A tool to assess your firm’s learning culture

[Deutscher Titel: Ein Instrument zur Beurteilung der Lernkultur eines Unternehmens]

David A. Garvin, Amy C. Edmondson, and Francesca Gino
Tool Kit: Is Yours a Learning Organization?
Harvard Business Review, Volume 86, Number 3, March 2008

Abstract: Using this assessment tool, companies can pinpoint areas where they need to foster knowledge sharing, idea development, learning from mistakes, and holistic thinking.
An organization with a strong learning culture faces the unpredictable deftly. However, a concrete method for understanding precisely how an institution learns and for identifying specific steps to help it learn better has remained elusive. A new survey instrument from professors Garvin and Edmondson of Harvard Business School and assistant professor Gino of Carnegie Mellon University allows you to ground your efforts in becoming a learning organization. The tool’s conceptual foundation is what the authors call the three building blocks of a learning organization. The first, a supportive learning environment, comprises psychological safety, appreciation of differences, openness to new ideas, and time for reflection. The second, concrete learning processes and practices, includes experimentation, information collection and analysis, and education and training. These two complementary elements are fortified by the final building block: leadership that reinforces learning. The survey instrument enables a granular examination of all these particulars, scores each of them, and provides a framework for detailed, comparative analysis. You can make comparisons within and among your institution’s functional areas, between your organization and others, and against benchmarks that the authors have derived from their surveys of hundreds of executives in many industries. After discussing how to use their tool, the authors share the insights they acquired as they developed it. Above all, they emphasize the importance of dialogue and diagnosis as you nurture your company and its processes with the aim of becoming a learning organization. The authors’ goal–and the purpose of their tool–is to help you paint an honest picture of your firm’s learning culture and of the leaders who set its tone.

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Copyright © 2008 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.


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