Five Elements of a Modern, Agile Learning Organization

August 14th, 2019

Learning can do a lot more for an organization than simply provide people with new skills. But in order for it to do big strategic things like solve problems or shape culture, it needs to be baked into the fabric of an organization, at all levels. You need a world-class learning function and the right technology to support it.

Our new program “The Agile Learning Organization” is designed to help you re-imagine learning & development at your organization—or deepen changes that you’ve already been making. Consider these five elements while building an agile learning culture:

1. Continuous: Learning can’t only happen in-person, in a classroom, or during dedicated time outside of work—though all of those things are an important part of the modern learning mix. Using new technologies and tools, we can also integrate learning into the flow of work. Continuous learning allows for employees to integrate new knowledge immediately into their work, share lessons, and offer insights to one another.

2. Individual and Organizational: As organizations change and grow to meet the demands of the modern marketplace, it is becoming more difficult to predict what type of learning each role or division of the business needs. Marketing teams may need to know some basic coding in order to better think about digital strategy. IT teams might have communications challenges. We need to design learning programs that balance the upskilling of individuals with our organizational needs of staying relevant and competitive.

3. Experiential: Some of the most important learning we do isn’t in a classroom or digital learning platform; it happens through experiences, both big and small. Consider ways to give employees opportunities to try out new things within the framework of their everyday like stretch goals, pitching a new client, or role-playing complex challenges. Don’t forget to dream big, too: what kinds of big-impact learning experiences outside of work might challenge employees to grow and learn?

4. From and with Each Other: Learning doesn’t just happen in one direction; it should happen up, down, and across the organization. Employees have a tremendous amount of diverse, share-able knowledge that they can offer one another. Consider how to encourage learning on a day-to-day basis (water coolers and kitchens stocked with snacks offer opportunities for informal knowledge-sharing) and with more formal programs like coaching or mentoring.

5. Data-driven: Data offers huge benefits for us as learning professionals to learn about what we’re offering. By using data intelligently, we can continuously test, iterate, and improve on what we’re delivering, how we’re delivering it, and who is using it. It allows us to create Agile learning offerings that keep up with the ever-changing needs of our organizations. One caution, though: remember that data is only one part of the high-quality learning matrix and not every learning opportunity can be easily measured by data. Don’t rely on it as your exclusive test for the success of your learning offerings.


To learn more about these principles and others for building an agile learning culture check out the Academy’s newest program “The Agile Learning Organization”.