Over time, organizations may harden like arteries. They stagnate unless they are motivated to transform.

Frequently, entrenched organizations need a crisis to begin transforming. For example, an economic downturn may unnerve leadership enough to consider tangible innovation. Before the crisis; evaluation, improvement and refocusing on a current trajectory are dubbed as innovation.

However, during a crisis, changing trajectory becomes possible.

Spencer Johnson correctly observes, “Change happens when the pain of holding on becomes greater than the fear of letting go.”

A suggestion.

Rather than waiting for a crisis try creating a transformational organization, an organization that doesn’t need pain to change.

Create learning cultures.

Learning is change. Change requires learning. Therefore, learning is central to organizational tranformation. You can create a learning culture by:

#1. Embracing systems thinking – look at yourself as an integrated whole.  When I look at the organization I lead, I see silos rather than integration. Innovation emerges when silos are integrated.

#2. Committing to personal mastery – honor and reward something more than performance. Honor and tie pay to mastery.

#3. Inspiring shared vision – channel energy toward agreed upon outcomes. Vision motivates learning. Without vision there is no reason for learning.

#4. Enhancing the team – developing your team lifts organizations above individuals and unleashes the potential of multiple perspectives.

#5. Focusing on what not who – stagnant organizations look to the same sources, individuals, and internal structures for innovative ideas. What is suggested is more important than who suggests it. Look for ideas up, down, and outside your organization.

Warning: learning cultures may successfully destabilize internal power structures that frequently maintain the status quo.


How would you create a learning culture?