I was delighted when Nigel Paine approached me late last year to explore the opportunity to collaborate on a project.  We decided to run a ‘Building Learning Culture’ program in Australia and New Zealand.  (Workshops are running in Melbourne 6 August 2019, Sydney 8 August 2019 and Auckland 15 August 2019 – more info at this link.)

Nigel lives in the UK, so we have been working across the globe on this project.  We are now speaking on videoconference (Zoom) every week as we prepare to deliver the program.  I love Nigel’s energy and expressiveness – it’s infectious.  I also appreciate his wide knowledge of organisational learning and range of examples he gathered of learning culture in action during the research for his book.

One shift in my own thinking as a result of my interactions with Nigel is an expanded view of learning culture.  I have a greater appreciation of the breadth and importance of learning culture to enable organisations to thrive.  I read Nigel’s book Workplace Learning: how to build a culture of continuous employee development as soon as my pre-ordered copy arrived in early 2019.  One of the gems I took out of this book was the analogy of a gyroscope of learning culture.

Nigel explains this in the introduction to his recent article ‘How Do You Build A Learning Culture’ in the Training & Development magazine (published by Australian Institute of Training and Development) as follows:

“The central metaphor explored in the book is that a learning culture is an organisational gyroscope.  A gyroscope in the cockpit of a plane constantly reminds the pilot where the horizon is, even if there is poor visibility and turbulence.  It prevents the pilot flying upside down, or into a mountain, and helps the pilot retain balance and equilibrium.

Perhaps, in much the same way, organisations in this age can only navigate the volatile and uncertain environment they now inhabit by building a learning culture and thereby avoid the shock of disruption.”

Nigel expanded on this analogy in a very animated way in a webinar we ran in May.  Watch the extract of this segment of the webinar recording below to hear this first-hand.

Many learning professionals talk about learning culture as if it means that people are more self-directed learners.  They point to their libraries of resources that people can search for themselves.  Or a formal learning pathway that gives people more options and choice as to how they learn something.  There is still a high degree of control being sought or exerted by the learning function in such approaches.  It only scratches the surface of what a true learning culture looks like and what it takes to create an environment where organisations sense and respond rapidly to changes in the outside environment.

If you’re curious to hear more about this expanded vision of learning culture listen to Nigel’s recent From Scratch podcast episode 128 – How to Define a Learning Culture.

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