Learning has always proven its importance in every aspect of human life. Even more important is practising and applying what you have learned. Learning is constant at every stage of life. And trust me, harnessing the power of learning is essential in the world of business.
In a learning ecosystem, the right mindset, a form of blended learning that might also involve technology, and a strong and positive learning environment are needed to get the best out of the experience. But beyond these three elements, another key to organisational learning in our disruptive world today is having learning community, both internally and externally.
Building a learning community by starting within your organisation is essential. It promotes a positive learning environment and gathers like-minded people together to learn from one another. An internal learning community also promotes another important element in the learning ecosystem — a strong and positive learning culture.
You will find that people are clearly more engaged when there is an established learning community within your organisation. Activities and programmes such as sports clubs or outings promote this. In the same manner, people are more willing to learn and develop themselves when there is a learning community within the organisation.
One of the many approaches you can use involves a professional learning community, which is a method of promoting collaborative learning for colleagues in the same work environment or field. This can come in the form of workshops or training sessions.
An internal learning community is important, but it is also important to look beyond your organisation to seek an external learning community. Business leaders must seek a community of like-minded people in the industry — or even other industries — for themselves and their people to become a part of.
A learning community outside your organisation not only allows you to learn from others in the community, but it also gives you different insights and perspectives on the business landscape that might never have crossed your mind.
Executive education is one of the approaches business leaders can use to seek a learning community outside their organisation. It can be used to build on internal learning communities, but there are programmes that are planned in a way that you are placed in sessions with people from other organisations and/or industries, but usually at the same level.
The aim of executive education is to allow you to learn from experienced trainers and consultants, but also be able to gain insights and learn more from one another. Diverse communities can give you an even wider pool of knowledge to learn from.
The main objective of a learning community is to make optimum use of the collective wisdom that you will gain and be able to offer. As a popular proverb goes: “Two heads are better than one.” This simply means that the intelligence of two can add up — and even solve problems — better than a single person working in isolation. In this sense, it is even better when you are part of a community of smart, like-minded people.
A learning community internally and externally allows you and your people to build a network. You not only learn from each other, but you also get the chance to widen your range of personal and professional connections. This comes in handy when you want to collaborate or partner with other organisations.
While having a learning community clearly has advantages, there are some important things to keep in mind. A learning community needs the cooperation of the people involved, especially business leaders themselves. A lot of time and resources are required but having a clear purpose and an open mind are keys to nurturing a learning community.
Building a learning community and having the opportunities to learn from others could be one of the best ways for you and your organisation to keep up with the disruptive world. Supporting one another will not only push others towards growth and success, but also will inevitably give you and your business further growth and success.
Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s leading executive, leadership and innovation capability development centre.