In 1990, Nelson Mandela left jail after 27 years in prison, the Berlin Wall was down, and Tim Berners–Lee created the first web server. This remarkable year also saw a publication of Peter Senge’s classic book, “The Fifth Discipline,” the “Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.”
After fourteen years of experience in different organizations, I decided to change my career direction and join Authority Partners (AP). However, before I made a final decision to go out of my comfort zone and leave an organization where I worked for the last ten years, I needed a clear vision and good reason to move on.
Only two amazing conversations with the AP Talent Acquisition and Talent Management teams were enough to get all answers to my questions and make a final decision. So, in January 2021, I became a member of the AP family. What blew my mind is that I actually have the opportunity to work for a company that is a pure example of a learning organization. In AP, people are supported in further growth and development on both professional and personal levels through investments in different types of education and through the strong culture where all team members actually grow together with the company.
Peter Senge, Founding Chairman of the Society for Organizational Learning and a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, defines a learning organization as a place where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole (reality) together.
David Garvin, professor at Harvard Business School, defined a learning organization as an organization skilled in two things: creating, acquiring, interpreting, transferring, and retaining knowledge, and second: acting, modifying its behavior to respond to new knowledge and insights. Of course, products can be copied, services can be copied, even processes can be copied, but if you are learning more rapidly than the competition, you can get ahead and stay ahead.
More than 30 years after his book was published, Senge’s ideas are more than reality. The world is changing every day; we have a more global environment, industry boundaries are collapsing, previously regulated businesses are becoming deregulated, we have new business models. If your rate of learning is not greater than the rate of change, you will fall behind.
Being a learning organization allows us to perform better in productivity, quality customer service and employee retention, and many other benefits. LinkedIn report (Workplace Learning report) shared the research statistics where 94% of employees say they would stay in a company longer if it invested in their development and learning, 75% of consultants would jump at the chance to learn if their managers suggested appropriate courses or material, and 42% of employees claim development is the most important factor when deciding which company to join.
The benefits of being a learning organization are tremendous. In the first place, there is improved innovation that can’t be forced, but it can be fostered in the right environment. Some of the most successful companies in the world, and AP is one of them, achieved their status by creating a culture where employees have the time and space to learn, explore, and pitch their ideas. Giving access to all employees to the content they need allows them to thoroughly understand corporate challenges and goals.
As one of our core values is growth and development, AP continuously encourage knowledge-sharing, internally and externally. Besides, we are constantly developing our Education Portal where all consultants can get relevant information, technical and soft skills training videos, documentation, and a preview of upcoming trainings/educations/conferences.
As the saying goes, “teamwork makes the dream work.” When the problems (in AP, we call them challenges) are shared, they are more likely to be solved. When consultants’ ideas are acknowledged, and their feedback is taken seriously, it improves their confidence and level of engagement moving forward.
In AP, consultants are not only allowed to continue expanding their knowledge, skills, and opportunities to innovate but encouraged to do so.
AP team members are supported and encouraged to attend different types of conferences, congresses, summits, or any other internal/external trainings or certifications with covered costs and allowance to learn and develop during the work hours, according to their obligations and in coordination with their managers. Also, consultants share their knowledge internally daily through mentorship programs, internal trainings organized for teams companywide.
During the first six months of 2021, AP organized 47 training sessions with more than 1000 hours invested in education. In addition, we had more than 100 consultants who attended many different events like conferences, summits, and webinars.
We asked AP fellows what they think about education opportunities in AP, and this is what they commented about the latest trainings:
“To organize a mobile development training was an awesome idea. Having speakers with great experience and deep knowledge of the technology made the sessions very challenging. The preparation was on a high level, and what I like the most was the ability to interact with the audience and the speaker. Sessions were interesting and informative; they helped me refresh and expand my knowledge. Some parts even got me into the investigation after that. I hope that in the future we will have new topics through which we share our knowledge and grow together as a team,” – Stefanija Popovska, Senior Software Developer in AP.
Sanida Djumisic, the QA Analyst in AP, added: “Internal performance training was an amazing experience for me. It gave me an overview of performance testing and its benefits. It really interested me in this type of testing. Now I can discover more and expand my knowledge. That is one of the best things about internal lectures: it gives us an oversight about things that we didn’t have a chance to work with before. With trainings like this, we are really growing together as a team and as individuals.”
Contributing to the development of the IT community through Podcasts, Blogs, DevTalk Meetups, AP LAB is very important for us, as we are sharing our knowledge externally while showing our social responsibility. During previous years we held 28 sessions of AP Lab and trained 344 interns. One hundred forty of them have transformed their lives and careers and become a part of the AP team. One of them, Kenan Hadzirovic, has become a Program Architect in AP and now he is AP Lab Mentor and is teaching new generations of AP Lab interns.
A sense of contribution does not just boost consultants’ pride in themselves – it also promotes pride in where they work. A collaborative mindset, coupled with programs that prioritize learning, helps transform teams into perceptive powerhouses. As a result, they are becoming more agile and streamlined, overcoming inefficiencies and driving better outcomes for our customers.
I will conclude with a quotation of Jack Welch, former Chairman, and CEO of General Electric: “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
We don’t just grow. We grow together.