I often spent time thinking about what makes great organizations “great”…and the other day I had a sort of revelation that I thought was worth sharing.  It’s a characteristic of strong organizations that I hadn’t really thought of before and doesn’t typically show up on the standard list of things organizations should strive for.  So here we go…prepare yourself for organizational enlightenment 🙂

Great organizations create a culture where employees continually learn…from each other.

And by “…from each other” I don’t mean at the team level, but across the entire organization through the use of communities of practice, centers of excellence, thought leaders, etc.

What?  That’s it?  …you are surely saying to yourself.  On the surface “learning from each other” sounds glaringly obvious and way too simple to be effective.  But if it were so simple, why doesn’t every organization include programs where employees to learn from each other in their engagement recipe book?  Why then has only one organization (my current employer Excella Consulting) gotten it right of all the organizations I’ve either worked for or supported as a consultant in my entire career?


because it takes hard work…and most of that hard work is coming from employees not management.  Although it certainly takes significant vision and commitment from management to create and support the learning structure.

Why is it valuable to your organization?

  • It creates opportunities for employees to get to know each other.
  • It creates leadership opportunities for your employees.
  • It creates learning opportunities without the cost of 3rd party training.
  • It helps you identify what skills are important to your organization.
  • It expands your organization’s capability and capacity in those skills.

How do you get started?

Start by asking yourself these five questions about your organization:

  1. What are we good at now?
  2. What do we want to be good at in the future?
  3. What do we need to be good at in the future to remain competitive (or meet our mission requirements)?
  4. Who is good at those things in our organization?
  5. Do we need more people to be good at those things?

The answers to those questions will guide you to the areas that are most important to your organization and help you determine whether or not you need to increase your organization’s capability and capacity in those areas.  And if your are committed and brave, then perhaps you can start down the road of filling those educational needs from within…by learning from each other!