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Playing the Long Game: Developing a Culture of Learning

For a company or organization to truly thrive, it must be in a constant state of growth and – more importantly – learning.


Too many great companies and iconic brands have sadly fallen by the wayside after allowing themselves to become stagnant and refusing to adapt to changing trends and technologies. It has been said that if you don’t change with the times, the times will change you. Hence, a culture of learning is vital to survival and success.

The core of crafting a culture of anything is found in one basic premise: developing regular habits that are consistent with your vision and produce the desired results. In regard to creating a culture of learning, author/consultant Britt Andreatta, Ph.D. points out three fundamental components for “transformative learning”:

    • Creating a change in understanding/knowledge. This shifts the learner’s understanding of the principle and provides the “why.”
    • Creating a change in actions. Through trial and error, the learner develops new habits that ultimately create a roadmap for success.
    • Creating a change in a belief system. That wonderful “Aha!” moment when the learner has a permanent shift in their perspective or view toward the realization of a new and more productive way of thinking.

To fully realize these three components within a culture of learning, we must create an environment where people experience and come to expect education consistently. A good example within our firm can be found in our client builders program. In addition to updating a daily report, our advisors report on their leading indicators every Friday. In time, the process becomes so habitual that we find advisors will update their reports even if the office is closed on a given Friday. Creating an environment where the expectation is to be a student of the business, and daily or weekly activities focus on that expectation, people will establish good and productive habits that lead to their success.


It is important not to confuse a culture of learning or development with training. Note the differences:


    • Training is a limited process with a definitive start and finish line. Learning and development are infinite.
    • Training focuses on getting people to do a specific task. Learning and development are much broader, teaching cognitive skills and developing a mindset that empowers the learner to make decisions and take positive actions.
    • While training programs can often be fun and even inspiring, they don’t focus on the long game. They are more of an assembly line mentality designed to create followers, not leaders.
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With respect to our firm’s learning culture, we call it a “Leadership Learning Organization,” whereby individuals lead each other in learning and development.

There are two fundamental principles important to our culture.


The first is “Radical Candor” – an idea developed by best-selling author Kim Scott that imparts “caring personally while challenging directly.” The antidote to toxic company cultures, it is guidance that is kind and clear, specific and sincere. It is often easier said than done.

The second principle is a concept we borrowed from the medical community known as See One, Do One, Teach One.” The basis is that one does not fully understand anything until one teaches it to another. The key was creating an environment and culture that allowed both of these concepts to happen.

Your organization overall, and every employee under its roof, have vast untapped potential and abilities. The very best way to tap into that energy – to realize that potential – is by creating a culture of learning. By doing so, you achieve greatness and success beyond your wildest dreams.


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