Increase learning capacity

Learning capacity refers to the way that individuals (and organisations as groups of individuals) are able to recognise, absorb and use knowledge. It matters because it is the basis of improving operational efficiency, stimulating innovation and increasing organisational agility. Knowledge is both the input and output of learning so the knowledge that flows around an organisation stimulates, provides the material for, and transfers the benefits of learning. Therefore, increasing learning capacity means both increasing knowledge flows and getting better at the process of learning itself.

As part of improving the process of learning in the organisation, it is important to “join up” different functional strategies and priorities associated with different aspects of learning. Initiatives to improve individual or organisational learning can be “joined up” by thinking about the nature of the knowledge involved and the extent to which the learner needs to be passively or actively involved.

Knowledge Works includes detailed guidance in relation to three approaches that both improve knowledge flows and create opportunities to build learning capacity. Communities of practice allow those interested in a particular field or topic to share their knowledge and experience with likeminded colleagues, while external learning-based collaborative partnerships provide access to new sources of knowledge and different perspectives on issues. Electronic Record and Document Management Systems (EDRMS) provide a means of managing information efficiently, but can also be the basis for connecting people so that unstructured knowledge can also be shared, giving context and meaning to a situation.

The Henley KM Forum created a maturity model to help organisations bring a knowledge perspective to EDRMS, thereby getting more value from the investment in the technology. You can download an electronic copy of the maturity model here to assess your organisation. Knowledge Works explains how to use this to stimulate peer learning across the organisation and to gradually build organisational capability.

Communication is one of the maturity model factors, so we developed a “Highway Code” metaphor offering hints and tips on using the EDRMS. You can download an electronic copy of this here.

Issues 7,11,12 and 19 of the Henley KM Forum Knowledge in Action series summarise the approaches to increasing learning capacity that have been included in Knowledge Works.

                  Issue 7                                                        Issue 11

                    Issue 12                                                 Issue 19

You can click through to register and download these here.

Additional Reading

Learning to Fly by Chris Collison and Geoff Parcell

No More Consultants, by Geoff Parcell and Chris Collison

Cultivating Communities of Practice, by Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott and William M. Snyder