A Learning Organization

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A Definition

A learning organization is the term given to a company that facilitates the learning of its members and continuously transforms itself. Learning organizations develop as a result of the pressures facing the modern business world, but learning enables them to remain competitive.

What are the key tenants of a true learning organization and culture? How can you facilitate a culture of learning throughout your organization? What are the benefits of creating a culture of ongoing personal development and learning?

The Key Tenants

A learning organization will consistently display the following characteristics within their work groups:

  1. A shared vision that serves to inform and inspire team members
  2. A genuine culture of learning that is encouraged and supported by leadership
  3. A commitment by all team members to pursue and achieve mastery within their departments and individual roles
  4. A belief system that promotes ongoing learning as a value within the company
  5. A desire to continually improve all organizational processes and systems


A Culture of Learning

  1. Learning must be supported by a commitment to ongoing training that prepares team members for success within their current roles.
  2. Learning systems that make educational opportunities accessible to all team members must be created and implemented.
  3. Leaders must encourage, inspire, and incentivize team members to further their education.
  4. Team members who exhibit the personal initiative to grow through ongoing education and learning should receive praise.
  5. Senior leaders must lead the way by personally participating in ongoing learning initiatives. Leading by example will support a culture of learning.


Benefits of a Learning Culture

  1. An organization that invests in the ongoing education of all team members has a competitive advantage when competing for future talent.
  2. An organization that supports ongoing education has a greater opportunity to retain their current talent than an organization that doesn’t make the same commitment.
  3. An organization that expands the knowledge, improves the attitudes, develops the skills, and works with team members to create winning habits will experience success at a higher level.
  4. An organization that has a learning culture will be able to create a talent pipeline to assist in succession planning.
  5. An organization that truly develops a learning culture will ultimately provide a better customer experience by educating their team members to be the best at what they do on a consistent basis.

The Truth

We have never been in a more competitive business environment than we are today. As organizations create more efficient economic business models, the need for better trained people has intensified. We must improve every day, or we will fall behind companies who are accelerating their learning speed.

If we stand pat and refuse to create a rapid learning model, we will be threatening our growth opportunities.


What Must Happen?

  1. We must encourage open and candid opportunities for internal collaboration.
  2. We must seek the input and ideas of team members as a means of learning more rapidly if we wish to achieve a real competitive advantage.
  3. We must develop a customer responsive model where we can respond quickly and efficiently to changing demands as dictated by our customers.
  4. We need to continue to develop more knowledge about our products and the products of our competitors in order to be able to share our unique value proposition as it compares.
  5. We must stay in solution-mode at all times and continually seek out learning opportunities that will enhance our ability to provide real solutions in real time to our existing and potential customers.

In Closing

Education is the best investment you will ever make because it directly and positively impacts your most valuable asset: your people. Education provides an ongoing return on your investment as you pay once to learn a skill, but it pays you back over and over as you apply the new skill over the course of a career.

There is no downside to developing a culture of learning. Better trained people will lead you to more positive results in every area of your business. I believe these five impact points validate why it is so critical for you to build a real learning organization:

Five Areas of Impact:

  • Talent Retention
  • Improved Customer Experience
  • Employer of Choice
  • Improved Financial Results
  • Enhances Reputation

I hope this article in someway inspires you to look at your current culture as it relates to education and learning. Once you make the shift to becoming a fully committed learning organization, it is a decision you will never regret.

Make a difference today.

Teaching Is a Privilege

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After 32 years as a teacher, I am more convinced than ever that most people don’t truly understand what it means to be a teacher. We live in an age where everyone is a consultant with a presentation and a briefcase thirty miles from home. Teaching is vital, and not just to young students. Employees, professionals, and leaders need teachers in order to grow. Teaching is what I have dedicated my life to and truly love.

Why Do You Teach?

I have met them in stadium shows all over the world: well-known authors, TV personalities, legendary coaches, and business icons. I’ve shared the stage with great people, and I can honestly say true teachers are rare as diamonds.

Anyone can memorize a one-hour speech and wow a crowd. I have always told people I never follow the “show up, eat bad chicken, sign books, and take pictures” model. Although I have delivered over 1,000 keynote addresses globally, my life has been dedicated to one desire. I want to reach inside the heart and mind of a man or woman and help them find the tools, courage, and strength to change his or her life for the better.

Power Point This

How many events have you sat subject to slide after slide of the same verbal vomit? Give me a break. How many times have you been subject to a series of memorized jokes and one-liners that are so ill-timed and disingenuous that they fall flat? Too many I suppose. Trainers who present this way give real Teachers a black eye.

I don’t need a slide or a joke; I need to hear about your journey. A teacher teaches because he or she has learned. Share your lessons, your setbacks, your recoveries, and what life has taught you that might benefit me. Can you teach from the heart or not? If not, don’t call yourself a teacher.

The Greatest Teachers

I have been so blessed to receive instruction from so many incredible teachers: Racer Holstead, Ray Britt, Bubba Panquin, Catherine Bolden, Suzanne Smart, Dr. Elaine Swafford, Shirley Cummings, Lee DuBose, Dr. Ken Blanchard, Coach Bob McKillop, and many, many more. Some of these great people have passed on, and others are still with us. They have and continue to pour themselves into others with such pure intention.

These people and others like them are my heroes. Teachers are the world’s greatest influencers. We need more teachers, and fewer trainers and wannabes with a briefcase and a power point. We need fewer people going through the motions on stage and giving a canned presentation for a payday.

“Changing Lives Through Dynamic Instruction”

Thirty-two years ago, I wrote this mission statement, and I can say without fear of contradiction it still drives what we do. Every day. If you like it raw and you like it real, you would love our work. No boring lines or memorized minutia, we reach life and business without a filter.

A writer in England described our leadership day as “a rock and roll spiritual climax packed with life-changing moments that will last a lifetime.” I’ll take that. That day of teaching was incredible, and it was held in a rugby stadium in London. What an experience.

Call us anything but average, normal, dull, or boring. We show up to make a difference, to have an impact, to ask the hard questions, to examine life, and to do heart and brain surgery without any numbing agents. We are not there to put anyone to sleep. We are there to wake up that amazing person inside of you and say, “Now that you have the tools, confidence, and belief necessary, go rock the world.”

In Closing

To all the teachers out there every day busting your tails with no resources, teaching hungry children, providing emotional support free of charge, loving your kids, inspiring your kids…you are why I teach. You are my heroes.

Find out about Paul Cummings University demos here.