New Cultures for Learning

Designing new cultures for learning requires an intentional focus on the extent to which an organization’s structure and processes either support or hinder achieving its goals, with an eye toward moving its members from a state of awareness of what is to a state of action based on what could be. Establishing such new cultures for learning calls for all members of an organization to acknowledge the potential need to:

  • adjust existing perspectives about organizational effectiveness
  • alter existing—often well-entrenched—policies and practices

Embarking on this journey from awareness to action will build the capacity of members to design new cultures while embracing inquiry and reflection as tools for ongoing organizational improvement.

These six dimensions represent key strategies for designing new cultures for learning:

  • Mutual Responsibility/Relational Trust

Mutual Responsibility/Relational Trust serves both as a positive indicator of an organization’s culture and as evidence of members’ awareness of the benefits of collaboration in creating and sustaining organizational improvements. A culture of mutual responsibility is based on trust and collective commitment to an organization’s goals. Understanding and applying strategies to reduce interpersonal tension and foster a spirit of teamwork is an essential first step in designing new cultures. Reframing roles, responsibilities, relationships and results through a lens of trust and respect enables members of an organization to work smarter and more effectively.

  • Organizational Diagnosis

Organizational Diagnosis is a method for getting a “pulse check” on an organization’s vital signs. Using data from assessment instruments members complete, as well as feedback from their participation in guided activities, provides an initial “picture” of variations in how members perceive their experiences within the organization. The resulting organizational profile will serve as a source for analyzing members’ behaviors, expectations and interactions against a new framework for designing organizational cultures to maximize human potential.

  • Sense-Making/Integrative Thinking

Sense-Making/Integrative Thinking recognizes that determining what makes “sense” in an organization is an evolving process, a process that is strengthened by strategies for dealing with change and uncertainty. Organizational improvement is a continuous process of sifting through multiple sources of information, all while searching for the next best organizational strategy. To broaden the possibilities for organizational effectiveness, members should engage in sense-making and strategic planning in a way that favors integrative thinking over restrictive thinking.

  • Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder Engagement, as a means to designing new cultures for learning, requires a deep analysis of organizational needs and an understanding of how the resources of various organizational partners could help address those needs. Skills in communication, asset mapping, constituent outreach and resource matching are critical. Developing the capacity to nurture mutually beneficial relationships is an important component for securing meaningful partnerships and sustaining meaningful stakeholder engagement in strategic planning through strategic networking.

  • Systems and Networks for Innovation

Systems and Networks for Innovation are key to continuous renewal. Such systems and networks hold the potential to link the ideas and creativity of colleagues not only within an organization but from locations around the globe, thus contributing to a depth and diversity of practice not attainable within one organization alone. Innovative and strategic systems and networks can explore possibilities in ways not bounded by the systems and constraints formerly in place within an organization. Within such networks, best thinking gets better, enhanced by the contributions of others who might not interact face-to-face, but who remain engaged in the network as active participants nonetheless, expanding ideas and helping to define an organization’s new culture for learning.

  • Visioning, Change and Integration

Visioning, Change and Integration defines the cyclical nature of organizational improvement. The energy an organization expends responding to its current realities, combined with trying to grasp an often elusive understanding of what is on the horizon, results in ongoing inquiry and projections of what will work, under what situations, with what resources, to what end. At the same time, the desire to be responsive to change and responsible in planning for it can result in fragmented efforts that neither align with nor complement programs and practices currently underway. Thus, strategies for “living in the present while anticipating the future” are essential. Knowledge of such strategies can help an organization determine what to alter, amend, abandon or add while in the process of designing new cultures for learning which themselves will undergo refinement and revision in this continuous process of organizational improvement.

For further information, please contact us at CEBE