For many years, experts have noted that if communities and organizations want to be effective at tackling complex problems, they need to be intentional about continuing to learn. Continually being open to learning new things keeps one nimble, flexible, and responsive in timely and meaningful ways.
In the 1990’s, Peter M. Senge’s book The Fifth Discipline, highlighted the need for organizations to be “learning organizations”. SDSU’s Extension Community Development team ascribes to that idea as well. Our work with communities and organizations in South Dakota uses continual learning as a mechanism toward positive change. Through the concept of “collective impact”, we work to build strong teams that can accomplish their goals by identifying and making use of the resource providers around them.
Three Elements of Continuous Learning
The above graph shows three crucial elements for teams focused on continuous learning:
- Learning priorities that are co-created and agreed upon (goals).
- Learning plans that determine the set of processes and activities required to create a continuous cycle of dialogue and reflection (action plan).
- Learning culture that allows for openness, trust, and risk-taking (team building).
We can help you get started by laying a strong foundation for your community or organization in 2016. Sometimes it takes choosing a guided structure to get all the great ideas you have prioritized, and put into an action plan that moves you closer to your goals.