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Learning will propel the four critical levers of business success: growth, transformation, productivity and profitability

by | May 3, 2017

London, UK: Independent research company Towards Maturity, has today released new research detailing ‘The New Learning Organisation’ – a powerful and relevant model that demonstrates how business and people professionals need to develop a new approach to organisational learning.

For organisations to survive today, they need to think about how they operate. Business is moving to networked structures that are boundary-less and approach organisational design with a contemporary mindset. Digital transformation and critical economies such as the sharing, digital and gig forces today add value or disruption to people and ultimately an organisation’s success.

As businesses evolve in order to thrive in a climate that could change dramatically over the next decade, it is vital that business’ ecosystems and culture are intrinsically linked.

At the centre of this are people – the beating heart of an organisation. New research from independent research company Towards Maturity proves the business case for making learning the centrepiece of an organisation’s strategy.

The ‘Learning Organisation’ is a term coined and popularised by Peter M. Senge in 1990. Senge’s book, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organisation, brought it into the spotlight and his model is as important today as ever.

Towards Maturity have analysed Senge’s original work and identified principles for the 21st Century context. The findings have been released in a report titled, In-Focus: Driving the New Learning Organisation. The report is available for free, thanks to the sponsorship of Towards Maturity’s strategic partner, the CIPD.

A New Learning Organisation is defined as follows:

“A living and learning organisational ecosystem that intelligently facilitates the performance and learning of its entire people population, continuously transforming itself.”

Through this research, Towards Maturity – who provide the world’s largest evidence on what works in learning – has identified six essential characteristics of “The New Learning Organisation” that will unlock the four critical levers of business success: growth, transformation, productivity and profitability:

  • Clarity of purpose
  • Holistic people experiences
  • Thriving ecosystems
  • Agile, digital infrastructure
  • Continual engagement
  • Intelligent decision-making

These characteristics have been shaped by the top 10% of organisations on the Towards Maturity Index (called the Top Deck) – who are making significant headway when compared with the rest.

These organisations are still far from perfect, but continually demonstrate a difference in mindset when it comes to supporting common business objectives:

  • 97% of the Top Deck agree “business leaders recognise that learning is aligned with the business plan” (vs. 42% of the rest)
  • 74% actively encourage staff to take on new work experiences as an opportunity to learn (vs. 34%)
  • 51% agree “managers actively support in the application of learning in the workflow” (vs. 10%)
  • 53% agree “staff know how to work together to productively connect and share knowledge” (vs. 13%)
  • 87% ensure there is a communication plan in place for all key stakeholders (vs. 37%)
  • 62% use learning analytics to improve the services delivered (vs. 34%)

Andy Lancaster, Head of Learning and Development Content at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development and sponsor of the report, comments on the findings:

“In the fast changing world of work, the ability for organisations to successfully evolve is ultimately determined by the capability of their staff. For that to be a reality, learning has to be at the core. Twenty-five years on from Senge’s original work, there are encouraging signs that the climate for the emergence of a true learning organisation has arrived but now we need to build on that momentum. The principles identified in this report are a real catalyst for learning to take centre stage and genuinely transform organisations.”

Business that are successful today are reinventing themselves and learning is a key part of that process. However, a change of mindset is needed – from seeing learning as merely an enabler of business goals, to a strategic pillar of business that influences every aspect of the organisation, from finance to business development.

Laura Overton, the CEO and Founder of Towards Maturity adds:

“This evidence shows that when learning and business leaders work together, it makes an impact on the bottom-line of the organisation. It is vital that both use this evidence to redefine the actions that will deliver the increased capability essential for success in the modern workplace. The New Learning Organisation builds a powerful business case for learning to underpin an organisational strategy and it’s time for learning leaders to embrace their role as business influencers – we believe this is the way forward and we’re excited to have worked with the CIPD to deliver against that vision.”

The report covers the following:

  • The new world of work
  • The expectations of the C-suite
  • Peter Senge’s original vision of the ‘Learning Organisation’
  • Evidence on why a ‘New Learning Organisation’ is needed for 21st Century Business and what characteristics are required for success
  • How organisations from Towards Maturity’s top 10% are helping to define the 6 New Learning Organisation characteristics
  • Practical insights on how to unlock potential by driving the six characteristics of a New Learning Organisation

Jane Daly, co-author and Head of Strategic Insights at Towards Maturity, adds:

“After examining the evidence in line with my own experience of leading L&D, I am absolutely convinced that now is the time for learning to disrupt business thinking – we’re seeing an incredible impact on business where learning is brought to the heart of organisational strategy. The New Learning Organisation will thrive where laggards will not and we looking forward to supporting leaders who want to make it happen.”

The full report can be accessed for free at:

Towards Maturity and the CIPD will be running an interactive session on ‘Unlocking Your Potential to Drive a Learning Organisation’ at the CIPD’s Annual Learning & Development Show on Wednesday 10th May 2017 at London Olympia. For more information on the speakers, seminars and exhibition at this 2-day event visit: www.cipd.co.uk/LDshow

About the CIPD

The CIPD is the professional body for HR and people development. The not for profit organisation champions better work and working lives and has been setting the benchmark for excellence in people and organisation development for more than 100 years. It has a community of over 140,000 members across the world, provides thought leadership through independent research on the world of work, and offers professional training and accreditation for those working in HR and learning and development. www.cipd.co.uk

Explore the CIPD’s Future of HR and Learning hub at: cipd.co.uk/future


About Towards Maturity

Towards Maturity is an independent research company that provides expert advice and support to help organisations accelerate business performance through learning. It leverages the data of its longitudinal Benchmark Study, the largest learning strategy benchmark in the world. Since 2003, over 6,100 organisations and 41,000 learners have contributed to the Towards Maturity Benchmark.

Learn more about the Towards Maturity Benchmark and model at: www.towardsmaturity.org/benchmark

Thanks to the support of Towards Maturity’s Ambassadors, annual benchmarking findings, case studies and resources are available to download for free at www.towardsmaturity.org.

The Towards Maturity Ambassador Programme is made up of leading learning organisations. They work together as Ambassadors for change, identifying and improving good practice, raising awareness and driving the whole learning industry forward.

Towards Maturity Ambassadors include strategic partner the CIPD, publishing partner Emerald Group Publishing, the founding Ambassadors: Learning Technologies, LEO, Charity Learning Consortium, Acteon, Kallidus and Speexx, plus: Bray Leino Learning, Clear Lessons, Cognician, City and Guilds Kineo, CrossKnowledge, Degreed, Docebo, Dossier, DPG plc, getAbstract, GoodPractice, KPMG, Lumesse, PurpleMedia, Raytheon Professional Services, Redware, killsoft and Workstar. Learn more about Towards Maturity’s Ambassadors at: www.towardsmaturity.org/ambassadors

Towards Maturity is a part of the Emerald Group.

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