Monday 23 August 2010

What is Learning?

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Originally uploaded by » Zitona «
We have discussed on this blog many times what the definition of Knowledge might be, and what the definition of Knowledge Management might be.

In this interview with Hubert St Onge, we also have Hubert's definition of Learning. Hubert says

"Learning is the process of taking information and inserting it into one's practice"

I think, from the qualifications later in the article (despite a few missing lines), Hubert would be happy if I rephrased this as

"Learning is the process of taking KNOWLEDGE and inserting it into one's practice"

This is an excellent definition, and allows us to extrapolate to a definition of Organizational Learning

"Organizational Learning is the process of taking knowledge and inserting it into organizational practice"
 This becomes a very clear definition. I have argues elsewhere that learning has to involve change, and that if nothing changes, nothing is learnt.

So what changes as a result of Organizational Learning? Organizational practice changes.

This organizational learning can happen in a managed way, or in an unmanaged way.  The management structures you put in place to support and direct organizational learning, comprise Knowledge management. KM is the structure, OL is the outcome. The result is improved practice, and improved performance.


Christopher Parsons said...


I just found your blog recently and have really enjoyed it. This post was timely as I was just having a similar conversation about what these words mean to me with my wife yesterday. We came to roughly the same definitions that you did.

What's your definition of wisdom / organizational wisdom?

Mine is something along the lines of:

"Making smart choices about how to apply the knowledge you've acquired over time based on reflection and experience."



Nick Milton said...

I quite like your definition of wisdom - I dont have a definition of wisdom, and I feel it is a personal attribute and is very difficult to influence or deliberately develop. If I had a definition, it would certainly be something to do with application of knowledge.

I am unconvinced as yet that there is such a thing as organizational wisdom. I might be wrong of course.

Christopher Parsons said...

Perhaps we don't talk about wise organizations as much because we are still helping to create knowledge-driven organizations.

If you accept my definition of wisdom above then it seems that knowledge is a prerequisite to wisdom.

Perhaps organizational wisdom can be thought of as culture. A reflective, strategic, learning culture has all the tools the organization needs to be wise.

A wise organization is the kind of company you admire, shake your head, and say "Man, they always much such smart choices."

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