The Magic of a Learning Culture

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"In a world that is becoming increasingly connected and complex, the only source of sustainable competitive advantage is an organization's ability to collectively learn, unlearn and relearn faster than the competition. Learning therefore, needs to be woven into the cultural fabric of every organization to ensure that it can maintain a perpetual state of readiness to respond to the unexpected." 

This can be read in the introduction of the book "Workplace Learning", by Nigel Paine. He is a specialist on the subject of developing a Learning Culture. 

Learning Journey

This Learning Journey on how to develop, implement and maintain a Learning Culture, is developed by international team members of the Society for Organizational Learning (SOL). This online travel guide is the result of our own learning journey. With the remarkable insight that creating a Learning Culture really is magical!


In this Learning Journey you find a lot of inspiration, methods and tools to develop, implement and maintain a Learning Culture in your organization. Models and inspiration from specialists but also from best practices. Because we know realizing it in practice is ultimately the final game changer!


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!

The Problem:

How do we create meaningful learning and working environments in which participants acquire skills "on the job" with which they can participate sustainably in new (working) situations, in order to solve challenging issues in a continuously changing society?

The SOLUTION:

With a Learning Culture everything falls into place. With effects that reinforce each other. Working on your fundamental LEARNING CAPACITY that empowers staff, teams and organization to constantly improve, innovate, adapt and learn from it.

We all want agile organizations, happy staff and more sustainable solutions. For this to realize, learning is essential. Build organizations that thrive on change. At SOL we call these LIVING ORGANIZATIONS

The foundation for developing these living organizations is the creation of a Learning Culture. When you create such a Learning Culture the magic happens! Structural improvement on every level of the organization.

Ultimately, changing a culture means changing people's behavior. Not once or twice, but indefinitely! The development of a Learning Culture require changes on three levels at the same time. A trustworthy working and learning environment (organization), learning leadership (team) and easy to use personal mastery tools (individual). With the ultimate result that working and learning in organizations become one! (Patrick Bijman / SOL NL).

This Learning Journey "The magic of a Learning Culture" is organized in the following way:

  1. Introduction: We start our Learning Journey with sharing our SOL-vision on why we think it is important to create a Learning Culture for our focus group (the Learning & Development professional). We challenge every participant to do the Learning Culture test (reality versus aspirations) and to write an Action Plan along the way.
  2. WHY?: We continuously discussing the question why it is important to create a Learning Culture for your own organization.
  3. HOW?: In this module we start giving answers to the question of how to realize, implement and maintain such a Learning Culture in practice.
  4. WHAT?: In this module we present and discuss best practices of Learning Cultures in organizations located in several countries around the world.
  5. Results: We conclude this Learning Journey with a reflection. What did you learn? What are you going to do with the results? Start putting theory into action and share your vision with colleagues and management and / or fire up one or more experiments.

We focus ourselves in this Learning Journey on the learning team within organizations (Learning & Development / Human Resources / Talent Management). If you follow all the steps, you automatically create an Action Plan to create a (more) learning culture in your organization. If you share your inspiration, action plan and/or learning story with the SOL Community you receive the SOL Learning Culture Certificate.

No time to start your own learning journey? Read the executive summary and think again!


Important: Don't do this alone!

The result of this Learning Journey will be substantially better if you travel together with one or more of your colleagues. Alone you go fast, together you go far!

The Magic of a Learning Culture

9 Chapters

1.1 Target group

1 Lesson

We focus ourselves with this MOOC Learning Culture on the L&D professional. Helping her or him to develop and maintain a more learning culture in their organization.

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1.2 Start with the end in mind

1 Lesson

In this MOOC we use some metaphors to explain our line of thought. It's good to start with this overall view of the puzzle so you can place each puzzle piece in the right place.

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1.3 Learning Journey Program

2 Lessons

The ultimate goal of this MOOC is to provide you with ideas and inspiration to create a (more) Learning Culture in your organization. To create a working environment where working and learning become one.

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1.4 Learning Principles

1 Lesson

There are some basic learning principles we use as our foundation for this MOOC.

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1.5 What is a Learning Culture?

1 Lesson

In this part we give you our definition of a Learning Culture with some extra context.

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1.6 The SOL project team

1 Lesson

A short introduction of all the SOL project members. Coming from different SOL countries.

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1.7 Three ways to join this Learning Journey

1 Lesson

You can work on this MOOC alone, together with one or more colleagues or with support of a SOL Community of Practice

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1.8 Reality versus aspirations

1 Lesson

To solve the gap between where you are and where you want to be, you can use the easy way (short term solution), or the hard way (long term solution).

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1.9 Our goal

1 Lesson

The creation of a learning culture can be compared with agriculture. Preparing the field as a foundation for creating a more learning organization.

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6 Chapters

2.1 Introduction

4 Lessons

A learning culture is the essence of what is required to cope with a permanent state of uncertainty.

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Peter Senge is the author of the 5'th Discipline, the 'bible' of books on learning organizations.

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When you realize the 'right circumstances' the learning culture will organically grow by itself.

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A learning culture is the essence of what is required to cope with a permanent state of uncertainty.

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2.2 Why? Long term solution

1 Lesson

Extensive research of Bersin shows that only 6% of all organizations realize a learning culture with the associated results showed above. But, perhaps even more important, these organizations are more attractive to work for (Employee engagement index of 81%). A survey of more than 19,000 HBR readers found that one particular culture style differentiated the diverse and inclusive organizations from those that were not: a learning-oriented culture that emphasizes flexibility, open-mindedness, and exploration, and can equip organizations with the ability to adapt and innovate.

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2.3 Why? Employee engagement

1 Lesson

The magic is in building the right hen house. It's all about creating the right context, the physical, social and mental environment (the Learning Culture) that provides the foundations for a sustainable "chicken & egg production". It's magical!

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2.4 Why? Multi-stakeholder value

1 Lesson

Learning Culture is one of the most powerful tools you have to drive results

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2.5 Why? Diverse & inclusive

1 Lesson

A learning-oriented culture that emphasizes flexibility, open-mindedness, and exploration can equip organizations with the ability to adapt and innovate.

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2.6 Action Plan

1 Lesson

3 chapters

4.1 Introduction

1 Lesson

In this module we present so called 'best practices'. Organizations of which we can learn a lot, talking about developing, implementing and maintaining a Learning Culture.

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4.3 Action Plan

1 Lesson

3 chapters

5.1 Notes from the editor

1 Lesson

In this MOOC we use some metaphors to explain our line of thought. AT the end of this learning journey we try to fit in the puzzle pieces. Our metaphors can be of use in this respect.

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5.2 Action Plan

1 Lesson

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About the editor

"If you want to realize your dream you have to WAKE UP!" Patrick Bijman

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