It is almost a given in corporate learning, that when you work intensely with individuals on their personal learning and skill development, the organization, as a whole, benefits. . This assumption has been around for a long time, and drives the Learning and Development agenda. My research has indicated that learning per se is not the factor that drives performance. There are other really important cultural norms that are very important and often ignored. And if you focus exclusively in driving forward individual learning, you miss the conditions that will make that effective or ineffective.
I want to ague that we have something akin to a corporate brain. Its success and intelligence has noting to do with mass or density, but everything to do with the number of connections. Organizational learning is directly related, not to the quantum of learning, but the number of connections and a culture that inspires formal and informal links across silos, geographies and roles.
In many ways there is a world to win in terms of employee engagement related directly to corporate agility. But it rarely happens spontaneously, you have to build it deliberately and its components have only a little to do with actual learning. It is about process, context and culture: learning culture.
I want to build my case. I hope that you will find it challenging and contentious!
With over 25 years of experience in corporate learning, Nigel is a regular speaker, writer and broadcaster on the topics of learning culture, technology and leadership. Between 2002 and 2006 he headed up the BBC’s Learning and Development operation. Following this, he started his own company nigelpaine.com Ltd that is focused on building great workplaces that develop great people. He teaches on a doctoral programme at an Ivy League University, he has written three recent books, presents a monthly TV programme (Learning Now TV), and shares a weekly podcast (with Martin Couzins) called From Scratch. He splits his time between Europe, the US and Australia. He is a fellow of the CIPD, the UK’s professional body for HR and people development, The RSA (Royal Society of Arts Manufacturing and Science) and a Masie Fellow in the US. He was made a visiting Professor at Napier University in Edinburgh in 1998, and was recently awarded his Doctorate in Professional Studies at Middlesex University.