Knowledge Sharing in a Learning Organization

Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2014 in UEA Blog


The concept of a Learning Organization has been around for two decades.  Businessdictionary.com defines a Learning Organization as an, “organization that acquires knowledge and innovates fast enough to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing environment. Learning organizations create a culture that encourages and supports continuous employee learning, critical thinking, and risk taking with new ideas, allow mistakes, and value employee contributions, learn from experience and experiment, and disseminate the new knowledge throughout the organization for incorporation into day-to-day activities.”

Organizational learning, on the job training, and transferring knowledge is an informal process.  It happens every hour, every day, and every week somewhere in the company to all levels of employees.  The most common form of knowledge sharing is still word of mouth.  'Those that know how' generally teach 'those that do not know how'.  But what happens when 'those that know how' are no longer around to teach?  What happens if 'those that know how' are in another country?

Historically speaking we send ourselves to training.  This is the standard operating procedure for most new technologies, but more and more we find ourselves training and retraining on topics we've already learned as an organization, but just didn't retain.  There are many reasons for not capturing and sharing knowledge.  It may be that the proper tools were not in place or the appropriate amount of time was not provided.  Some users may try to prohibit sharing for personal gain or some just didn't realize they should share.  The list of reasons can go on and on but the one similar trait is that sharing knowledge is not part of the existing culture.

Why not?  Today we have technology that makes capturing, storing, and retrieving knowledge easier than ever.  We just have to get used to using it!  Mobile devices can instantly capture videos and upload them for future use.  They can take pictures which are worth a 1000 words!  Third party systems can document knowledge exchanges so the teacher and the student can work uninterrupted.  Capturing knowledge and information is easier than ever.

UEA utilizes the modules in our ERP system for collecting and retrieving this knowledge.  Employees are allowed to develop, maintain, and share expertise.  Many lessons are learned through trial and error or through training.  UEA captures this knowledge and uses it throughout the organization.  “There are lots of ways to build a learning organization, and they all get back to management. If you build a culture which gives people time to reflect, develop and share expertise, stay close to customers, and learn from mistakes you will outdistance your competition and thrive in the face of huge market change. “Take a lesson from companies like Apple, IBM, and Google: build expertise and promote organizational learning, it will pay off big time.”  (Josh Bersin, Forbes, 2012)

Scott Hagberg

Manufacturing Applications Engineer

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