Learning to learn: why you’re not learning as much or as often as you should

How to build an organisation that is continually learning and improving

Autumn: even in these new times, the traditional start of a new learning year.  For many, the first 20 years of our lives will be focused on learning through school and initially as we start our careers. And then it slows down, sometimes stops. For some, that may be a relief, as what seemed like a never-ending focus on exams finally ends. But is that such a good thing? We increasingly see leaders who commit to ‘never stop learning’ and firms which focus on ‘lifetime learning’. The challenge is it’s not always working.

This paper discusses why, and how firms can learn to be learning organisations,  building on our earlier paper: “What does it take to be a virtual leader?


 There are many barriers to learning in all walks of life, but in our experience of working with financial organisations worldwide, there are three key issues in our sector:

  • short term results being prioritised over long term outcomes;
  • incentive models and managers that prioritise that short-term view, with no recognition of time spent on learning;
  • difficulty in finding the right learning at the right time.
  1. Short termism

The first, and in our opinion most pervasive issue is a focus on short term results over long term strategic outcomes.

Many financial institutions we work with are under incredible pressure to deliver results each quarter, with longer-term matters like learning sacrificed as a result. This always reminds me of the quote attributed to Mark Twain (amongst others): “If I had more time, I would write a shorter letter.

To achieve strategic outcomes, in business as in life, a significant investment is required. That includes building an organisation that is continually learning and therefore improving. It is ironic that organisations focused on productivity are not setting the time aside for the most significant contributor to it, learning how to be more effective, as teams and as individuals…

To continue reading please download the full whitepaper:

Learning to learn: why you’re not learning as much or as often as you should

About the author

I help organisations and the individuals within them change and develop; to be better, more effective and have a positive impact on the clients and society they serve.