Common sense says that learning from experiences, both successes and failures and the ability to re-use lessons identified will lead to the continuous improvement of performance (Swieringa 1992, van der Spek & Kingma 1999, Weick 2011). An organisation's effectiveness and resilience can be leveraged by organizing three core learning processes in a smart and sustainable way:
Learning from successes and failures, on individual, team or company level;
Learning from each other, both from co-located colleagues as well as colleagues that might be located at a further distance through geography, organizational structure or discipline;
Learning from ‘outside-in’, from partners, suppliers, customers and even competitors.
However, in many companies, these learning processes might not function properly anymore and need attention and support. This may be caused by many reasons, such as:
Competing rather than collaborating divisions;
Differences in culture, pressure of the daily challenges;
Lack of communication tools and places to meet;
Counter-productive incentives within the company;
Overload of data and information in disconnected silos.
These barriers create various symptoms (van der Spek & Spijkervet 1997):
Non-productive time of assets due to unexpected failures or sub-optimal operations;
Duplication of mistakes because earlier ones were not recorded or analysed;
Re-invention of the wheel because people are not aware of activities, projects in the past or their outcomes;
Good ideas and best practices are not shared which raises overall costs;
Loss of critical knowledge due to retirement and mobility of work force;
1 or 2 key employees hold crucial knowledge creating continuity risks;
Slow innovation which results in delayed product development or missed opportunities;
Frustrated employees because it takes too long to find validated content or the right experts.