Of the many team cultures leaders attempt to create, perhaps none is harder, or easier, than creating a learning culture. The working premise of a learning culture is that all learning, no matter how unconnected to the daily work product, is immensely valuable.
Learning about anything engages the mind and creates connections between how we see the world and the work we do. In a learning culture, we strive to understand more deeply how others think and go about creating excellence. We can then draw parallels to how we create our own excellence.
Leaders in a learning culture facilitate and broker pathways toward insight. They create venues, conversations, and opportunities for the team to engage through new understandings.
In a learning culture, ideas fly around the workplace. Videos, exhibits, books, movies, demonstrations, and podcasts are shared and discussed in a controlled frenzy throughout the team. When leaders embrace learning in this way, everyone becomes a peer of great ideas.
Learning cultures are full of positive energy and attract curious minds. Through experiences, contemporary writings, podcasts, and exposure to exemplars of mastery in a variety of fields and disciplines, team members in a learning culture maintain an ongoing conversation of what stimulates the mind. This is never done by having experts talk at the team. Learning is always seen as a multi-directional activity, never as an expert monologue.
The so-called “brown bag” lunch lecture is an anathema to a learning culture, as are presentations and speeches. This is because learning cultures place the emphasis on the dialogue and conversation, rather than on the content alone. Understanding and meaning happens best in the Q&A, and not in the A. It’s not about answers alone.
If learning another language is like becoming another person, then creating a learning culture is like becoming a dynamically new team. Leaders emphasize learning anytime they create a conversation that includes everyone’s insights about a new topic or idea. Doing so purposely over time has many benefits. Chief among them is that learning doesn’t wait for permission, approval or for the leader.