What does an adaptive learning organisation look like?

An adaptive learning organisation demonstrates learning across organisational goals, structures, processes and core behaviours. Use the following descriptive checklist to review features that may characterise a learning organisation.

It would achieve:

Progress beyond reporting and auditing

Adaptive learning should lead to adaptive behaviour if effective pathways for transforming knowledge into mechanisms of change are developed. This can also be achieved through experiential (learning by doing) approaches.

It would be:

Goal orientated

Goal setting can occur across all organisational levels and is necessary to establish purpose. This purpose should be clearly understood and broadly supported. For example: a goal for a community organisation might be 'to sustain dunal vegetation in the local area through restoration, management and educational networks.

It would do:

Communicate effectively

Adaptive learning is a communicative process that identifies and opens pathways of communication across all organisational levels (and beyond) to share knowledge. Success and failure provide learning opportunities.

Eliminate information silos

Effective communication pathways avoid knowledge 'silos' and facilitate interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary approaches to knowledge generation to ensure that new understandings are conveyed broadly and inform future action.

It would have:

An orientation to learning

System and organisational goals provide the focus for learning. However, it is the underpinning organisational structures and processes that determine opportunities for learning and its role in decision making.

Devolved management structures

Hierarchical, command-and-control organisational structures are not conducive to effective adaptive learning within dynamic and complex systems. Devolved management structures based on trust, openness, cooperation and respect can enhance self-organising processes.

References for What does an adaptive learning organisation look like?

Smith, T.. F. (2006).  Institutionalising adaptive learning for coastal management.. Coastal management in Australia: Key institutional and governance issues for coastal natural resource management and planning..
James, C.. R. (2002).  Designing learning organizations. Organizational Dynamics. 32(1), 
Lal, P.., Lim-Applegate H.., & Scoccimarro M.. (2001).  The adaptive decision-making process as a tool for integrated natural resource management: focus, attitudes, and approach. Conservation Ecology. 5(2), 
Davidson-Hunt, I.J.. (2006).  Adaptive learning networks: Developing resource management knowledge through social learning forums.. Human Ecology. 34(4), 
Smith, T.F.., Carter R.W.., Thomsen D.C.., Mayes G.., Nursey-Bray M.., Whisson G.., et al. (2009).  Enhancing science impact in the coastal zone through adaptive learning. Journal of Coastal Research. Special Issue 56,
Smith, T.. F. (2014).  Adaptive Learning Theme Fact Sheet.
Myers, S.., Thomsen D.C.., Tarte D.., Dutra L.., Ellis N.., Thébaud O.., et al. (2012).  Adaptive learning and coastal management. In, Kenchington, R., Stocker, L. & Wood, D. (Eds) Sustainable Coastal Management and Climate Change: Lessons from Regional Australia. Chapter 7,
Stephenson, C.., Thomsen D.C.., Mayes G.., & Smith T.F.. (2011).  Shock treatment: adaptive learning in response to the South-East Queensland oil spill. In, Wallendorf, L., Jones, C. Ewing, L. & Battalio, B. (Eds). Solutions to Coastal Disasters 2011. 887-898.
Gidley, J.., Fien J., Thomsen D.C.., & Smith T.F.. (2010).  Participatory Futures Methods as Social Learning: Towards Adaptability and Resilience in Climate-vulnerable Communities. Environmental Policy and Governance. 19(6), 427-440.
Gidley, J.., Fien J., Thomsen D.C.., & Smith T.F.. (2010).  Participatory Futures Methods as Social Learning: Towards Adaptability and Resilience in Climate-vulnerable Communities. Environmental Policy and Governance. 19(6), 427-440.

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