BECOME A LEARNING ORGANISATION

Be a Learning Organisation

Being a learning organisation means taking the time and effort to reflect on your work, understand its impact and adapt and improve over time. This can be harder to achieve than it sounds, especially in organisations where there is strong pressure to achieve ‘results’, reliance on performance indicators, hierarchies and aversion to risk.

Here are some important features of learning organisations and evaluative culture.

Learning organisations use self-reflection and self-examination:

  • They deliberately seek evidence to confirm what they think they’re achieving.
  • They use this information both to challenge and support what they’re doing.
  • They value candour, challenge and genuine dialogue.

Learning organisations embrace evidence-based learning:

  • They make time to learn in a structured fashion.
  • They learn from mistakes and weak performance.
  • They encourage the sharing of knowledge.

Learning organisations also encourage experimentation and change:

  • They support deliberate risk-taking.
  • They are creative and seek out new ways of working.
  • They are comfortable with uncertainty.
Is your organisation a Learning Organisation?

Here are some indicators of a learning and reflective culture in an organisation. See page 24 of the link below for specific indicators.


  • There is demonstrated management leadership and staff commitment to evaluation.
  • There is clear accountability and responsibilities for collecting data, evaluating and reporting on results.
  • Regular, informed demand exists for information about results.
  • There is adequate data, information, capacity and expertise to evaluate.
  • They encourage learning, being creative, ‘safe’ risk taking and experimentation.
  • They have supportive organisational incentives, systems, practices and procedures.
  • An outcome-oriented and supportive accountability regime is in place.
  • There is learning-focused evaluation and monitoring.
  • It takes a pragmatic approach to evaluation.
  • It encourages open, self-critique.
  • It takes an interdisciplinary and systems approach.
  • The group is open, ethical and democratic.

If you don’t have the expertise in-house to present your findings well, consider building in a budget to pay for this expertise when you seek funding. If possible, make sure the skills you buy are taught to people in your team.