At Rikolto, we collectively defined learning as “creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and modifying our behaviour to reflect new knowledge and insights” (Garvin 1993). Learning as an organisation is key to harness our impact, for it allows us to respond quickly to an ever-changing environment, ensure the relevance of our interventions, improve the effectiveness of our work, and optimise personal and professional performance.
For each component of our definition of learning, we have identified tools and practices that could nudge our colleagues towards collective learning. We can create knowledge by planning for learning, sharing the lessons we learn, or conduct strategic learning assessments, for example. Practices such as trainings, knowledge cafés, benchmarking and learning journeys can help us to acquire new knowledge, while virtual fora, communities of practice, or the WhatYouCanLearnFromYourColleages (#WYCLFYC) webinars help us to transfer knowledge within the organisation. Most importantly, we modify our behaviour by translating this learning into our intervention strategies and capturing these updates in our intervention frameworks.
These frameworks also include a few straightforward sections inviting colleagues to determine learning objectives (often related to the complex dynamics in their context of intervention), and to write down what they have learnt with regard to these objectives and how they came to learn this particular lesson. The learning sections attempt to strike the right balance between limiting the burden of input and keeping track of learning.
Finally, we have in every regional office a colleague who takes up the role of supporting his/her colleagues in planning, learning and accountability. We meet live annually and have a virtual exchange platform to propose user-friendly solutions to the latest challenges we encounter in our daily work environments and discuss strategies to improve learning dynamics – including the vision and tools exemplified above – that encourage personal and professional development.