Becoming a True Learning Organization: An Adaptive Business Model

In a recent research brief on the business value of an LCMS, I defined the adaptive business model. That model has become central to my idea of what it means to be a learning organization.

The traditional business model, suited for a relatively stable and predictable business environment, developed pre-determined content that demanded consensus, often by committee, and absolute compliance. Created in a command and control environment, it prescribed rules and regulations that defined your work. The traditional model worked because the business environment was more stable, and the products and services, and resulting skills and knowledge, had a long shelf life.

New businesses operate in a flat global, digital and diverse hypercompetitive world market and experience a much more rapid pace of change. The new, more flexible adaptive business model requires rapid communication and collaboration, which creates new content on an as-needed basis. Even the characteristics of change are dramatically different. Change today is dynamic and discontinuous. Change happens with greater frequency and is unpredictable based on realtime events within the company and with their customers, vendors, and suppliers. Organizations need to adapt quickly and correctly to these changes.

For example, a software company needs to provide customized upgrades to their clients that are adapting to rapidly changing market conditions. A healthcare organization is constantly updating their policies and procedures based on rapidly changing guidelines and regulations. Two companies are merging and need to rationalize quickly the different ways of doing business in order to keep moving forward. A multinational fast food company is constantly bring new products to different markets and regions and needs to provide information and directions about food safety, preparation and marketing. A tech company is constantly innovating and needs their salesforce to know the new features and functions of their products. All of these examples result in changes in their content and in the training based on that content.

The adaptive business model means that the company has the tools and culture to adapt quickly to changes in their marketplace. The company learns quickly, and that learning translates into adopting and adapting what they learned.

Today, most organizational models still depend upon a traditional corporate culture, with a number of well-known and accepted corporate procedures regarding content and content sharing. Transitioning into an adaptive business model requires the right tools, a new mindset, good strategy and high-level commitment. The goal of the transition is to find where the traditional model no longer produces the optimum results and can be improved using an adaptive model that employs constantly changing content and content sharing. David's Blog 10-30

Companies that are adaptive instead of traditional utilize content creation and management tools that have the capability of developing content using subject matter experts from across the company and often with the input of customers, suppliers and vendors. They enable the following to happen:

  • The content creation and management tools employ a number of social and other collaborative features and functions.
  • The adaptive organization includes workspaces that cross department and division lines and incorporate
  • Company-wide secure access to files
  • Enterprise-level social network features
  • The organization fully embraces ways to facilitate real-time discussion and to reduce unnecessary emails using instant messaging for on-screen and mobile chats between everyone across the enterprise.
  • The organization culture has shifted from a focus on the problem to a focus on the solution and is driven by the belief that sharing knowledge is power instead of the traditional knowledge itself is power.

Adopting an adaptive business model is one of the first steps to becoming a Learning organization. For more information, members can read the recent Brandon Hall Group research brief on The Business Case for LCMS: From Standalone to Collaborative Content Authoring; for non-members, it is available at our online store.

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