3.3.5 Integration: Organizational Learning

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The Magic of a Learning Culture is in its simplicity. Create the right foundation for learning, and learning takes off, just by itself! It's magical!

It is just like agriculture. When you make sure the soil is of good quality you have a sustainable model for growth.

The text above can be read in the introduction. It is one of the four metaphors we use. To facilitate organizations to learn, its crucial to constantly work on the fundament for learning: Learning Culture. 

For this we as SOL created Communities of Practice. In these CoP's we learn from each other.

Organizational Learning

==> step 4 Change from Within

In this fourth step in our route to a (more) Learning Culture we integrate and facilitate.

The three Change from Within steps before (Learning Leadership / Learning Practice Teams / Personal Mastery) are like three matryoshkas. They fit into each other because they are based on the same fundaments. One building on the other. Making each other more powerful!

With the Learning Culture as a fundament for the integration of working and learning. Brought together under a holistic vision on organizational learning.

The Problem:

Changing a culture means changes at every level of the organization. So how do you stay in control?

The SOLution:

Don't focus to much on results. Create the fundaments for learning, trust the process and let go!

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The SOLution

It's good to mention we think/know there is no one best solution to develop, implement and maintain a (more) Learning Culture in your organization. You have to find your own solution, based on your own insights, context, support etc.

With SOL, based on our knowledge and experience, we have developed our own SOLution. Several tools, development programs, conSOLtancy etc. focused on developing a (more) Learing Culture. Use this as an inspiration or input for your own learning journey.


All aspects of this Change from Within principle come together in the Learning Culture:

  • As a fundament for learning: when the Learning Culture is working well, staff, teams and organization flourish. The quality of the Learning Culture defines the quality of individual-, team- and organizational learning.
  • As a result from learning: when staff, teams and managers are learning well, the Learning Culture flourishes. The quality of individual-, team- and organizational learning defines the quality of the Learning Culture.

So it works as a strengthening effect itself! Realizing a kind of lever principle. Like a perpetual motion machine. Developing a continuous improving Learning Culture.

Life long learning, just by itself. IT'S MAGICAL!


We often hear the question; how do you start things up? Are there any instruments to promote a Learning Culture?

When you have joined us in this learning journey you will realize it has to be a combination of tools, measures and experiments on the individual-, team- and organizational level to realize lasting results.

One very effective tool however is the so called "Learnathon". This is an (annual) meeting with your own staff (only those who choose to be there!) where learning projects are started, evaluated and/or terminated.

With the help of a Learnathon, employees are personally involved in their own development and that of the organization. Ideas to promote a Learning Culture are brought in, discussed and elaborated by the participants themselves. Vital is the commitment of management to support potential outcomes!

Community of Practice

The Society for Organizational Learning Global Forum (SoL Global Forum) is an international forum that builds upon “learning stories” from across the world to feature concrete, new ways of working and collaborating based on co-creation and co-transformation.

These "learning stories" on how to develop, implement and maintain a Learning Culture are shared via a Community of Practice. In these Communities of Practice (CoP) professionals can share their learnings, insights, results, failures and mistakes.

The first CoP Learning Culture is organized by SOL Netherlands. See this link for more information.

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Power within

Learning Culture

Trust the Process principle

Learnathon & Community of Practice

Systemic tools

Formalizing informal learning

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Learning Culture

  1. Power of Simplicity: This "trust the process" principle is in theory quite simple. But in practice this might be the most difficult thing to do.  It all comes down to patience, trust and faith.
  2. Power of Community: Some powerful examples of community tools are the "Learnathon" and "Community of Practice". Both examples have been worked out above. 
  3. Power of the System: In this learning journey systemic tools help see them the whole holistic picture, instead of the narrow "in the box view". For instance, good results are often realized with organizational constellations. But also the powerful 80:20 rule can be very helpful, as well as graphical flow charts.
  4. Power Within: The greatest challenge eventually is in formalizing informal learning. Making the unseen seen, the unspoken spoken and the unconscious conscious. Intentional learning; learning from everything you do all day! In this process everything comes together. It needs learning leadership to address and facilitate this process. It needs personal mastery to knowingly work on these issues, so insights and learnings eventually transform into other behavior. And it needs team learning to learn from and with each other and to accelerate this kind of learning inside your organization. 

You have to realize, a Learning Culture is hard to gain but easy to lose!

When, for instance, a new manager does not share the same Learning Culture vision, all the advantages can disappear like snow in the sun. Patrick Bijman

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