Because the environment in which industries operate is constantly changing, they are forced to make changes in the way they operate in order to adapt to it. Among the trends observed in recent years and made necessary by these evolutions, the concept of the “learning organization” applied to the company is particularly interesting to study.
What is the concept of a learning enterprise and what dictates this necessity?
A company is said to be a learner when it organizes itself in such a way as to create and acquire knowledge in order to stay in tune with the ecosystem in which it operates and, ultimately, to remain competitive.
Some think that any company is a learner by default, insofar as it is called, in any case, to constantly integrate new elements into the framework of its activity. However, it is the quality of the strategy implemented by the company and the means deployed to achieve it that is the priority here. It is also a question of its ability to adapt its organization according to changes imposed by the markets and the economic context, among other factors.
Because, precisely, the need for the industry of the future to tend towards the learning enterprise model is dictated by external parameters such as those mentioned above. For several years now, we have witnessed a profound upheaval brought about by new technologies and changes in consumer habits. Today, it is almost no longer possible for an industry to remain in a logic of mass and standardized production. It is now obliged to tend towards increased diversification and personalization, due to the essential consideration of the customer’s wishes. This requires more flexibility on the part of the company and therefore of its employees, who must thus gain in versatility and undergo continuous training.
In addition, the current economic context, characterized both by increasingly fierce competition (globalization requires) and uncertainties as to prospects, is also pushing towards an inevitable transition to more responsive teams with broader skills, and therefore to an organization. learner.
It is no longer enough, for an employee, to justify a perfect management of the individual knowledge of his position and a thorough technical know-how. He must also develop organizational, procedural, even commercial and social skills. He must be aware of innovation in order to be able to make optimal use of the work tools that are made available to him.
What qualities to develop and organizational means to put in place?
The industry of the future is therefore called upon to be a learner, which means first of all that it must be able to manage unforeseen events, but also to use them as levers, and this, by considering them as learning and continuous improvement opportunities. To deal with this aspect in a little more detail, we can take up the analysis of David A. Garvin, professor at the C. Roland Christensen center at Harvard Business School, who believes that the company should focus on the 5 following activities to be a learner:
Solve problems as a group
Experiment (launching and experimenting with a project)
Learn from the experiments (draw up an assessment by identifying the positive and negative aspects of the experimental implementation of the project)
Capture the knowledge acquired (customer experience) through discussions with all parties (suppliers, customers, etc.)
Ensure the transfer of individual knowledge: between employees, between departing employees (retirement) and new recruits, etc.
To do this, there is no organizational model per se. Each company must deal with its own specificities (its size, its activity, its resources, the role of new technologies in its operation, etc.) in order to set up the appropriate learning structure and culture. This obviously involves training employees, which remains one of the main pillars of such an approach, but “train to train” is not enough; it is above all a matter of orienting this training policy towards a dual objective of employee autonomy and collective intelligence (collaborative work and a new organizational approach).
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