Following on from my previous post on team learning and another on collaboration I’m working on processes of organisational learning and the transfer of lessons learned through project activity to the wider organisation. As a project team disbands and takes it learning on to new projects there is a basic and obvious mechanism for transfer of learning (Sarah Fraser describes the idea much better than me here). Yet new learning in projects is highly situated and as new project teams develop so the new learning is altered and potentially transformed (as i understand it, this process of evaluation is the basis of the concept of dynamic capabilities). So project learning is built up over time and activity generating the organisational learning underpinning process-based change and firm evolution.
What seems important to me is to build in feedback loops for learning that enable that original project team to come back together to discuss and review how they’ve been able to apply those lessons in different situations/ contexts. While this provides opportunities for deep learning (individually, in teams and in the organisation) where real value is generated is in terms of utilising these diverse experiences of applying those lessons to go on to develop a common and transferable practice. This, to me is the strength of Communities of Practice – the shared repertiore – to develop new organisational signature processes and therefore enable strategic organisational learning.