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Learning Culture: A framework and ambition for L&D

• 3 min read

We often think about learning in terms of alternative or opposites: formal vs informal, in-class vs digital… But all these ways of learning actually co-exist and complement each other. And the glue that holds everything together might well be the organization’s own Learning Culture.

Different learning moments: not so different after all

The glory days of the 70-20-10 model are over. The model which seemed to make sense at some point is now heavily challenged. So, what is the problem?

First, the model makes it seem like there is a clear division between three types of unconnected events: on-the-job learning, learning from peers and learning from formal training. But learning is precisely about the strong ties that all these moments hold together: how you apply what you have learned during training in your professional context with the help of your colleagues.

Secondly, the 70-20-10 model can lead you to think you can do without formal learning. After all, it only represents 10% of L&D. Big mistake! It has been proven that when formal learning decreases, informal learning automatically decreases as well.  Indeed, formal learning brings a fresh impulse and new ideas to every day’s life.

“For learning transfer to happen, you need an environment that favors trial and error, encourages individual initiatives, is open to innovation, and values ongoing change”

What brings them together: Learning Culture

These two flaws highlight the link between formal and informal learning as well as their mutual dependency. What is the common ground that unites the two? The answer is the organization’s Learning Culture. Developing a Learning Culture means developing an environment where every interaction, every place, every project, every relationship is an opportunity for employees to learn without necessarily thinking about training.

The word “culture” was not chosen aimlessly. Think about someone tilling the land to get an abundant harvest. Having good seeds is obviously a prerequisite but it is not enough. A good soil and favorable weather conditions are also essential. The same goes for learning. Someone who comes back from training holds a promise. He/she needs to deliver this promise and find ways to go from learning to action. For this learning transfer to happen, he/she needs an environment that favors trial and error, encourages individual initiatives, is open to innovation and values ongoing change.

Learning Culture: metrics to monitor

Learning Culture might seem like a hazy concept. But we believe it is definitely an essential KPI to monitor. And to do so, you need to be able to build it up into a model and measure it.   Some models exist to describe an organization Learning Culture. At Docebo, we have developed our own model, organized around what we find to be four key dimensions:

  • Training and resources
  • Management involvement
  • Learning from peers and sharing
  • Learning agility

This model does not aim to provide a way to evaluate informal learning strictly speaking. But it gives you an understanding of where your organization stands and provides levers to improve the Learning Culture. This represents a key aspect of a company’s life as we know an organization’s culture is more than the sum of its members’ culture. On the contrary, it is the glue that holds it together and allows it to adapt and last long.