Institutional Learning as an Accelerator of the Implementation of Structural Reforms
A few months ago I had the honor to be part of a great event – CEF Forum 2022. I want to thank the CEF for inviting me to share my thoughts on institutional learning, and how it could improve the mandate delivery of public entities.
We all understand and admit that institutional learning plays an important role in constant increasing of institutional capacity. But how can it be implemented and what are the Key Success Factors for a continuous process of institutional learning, which ultimately results in a learning organization? We at the National Bank of Moldova believe that a learning organization is largely about governance, processes and organizational culture. These are major elements of each organization, which have a big impact on institutional knowledge management.
In this context, governance means governing bodies, organizational structure, reporting and subordination lines, span of control, human resources management, and so on. An independent supervisory board ensures a strong internal control system and a high level of accountability of an executive board. An efficient organizational structure, where the human resources management unit has an important role and sufficient resources to hire, retain and motivate employees, contributes to the maintenance of competences within an institution, and continuous professional development and knowledge management. When an organization is understaffed, it is difficult to talk about a learning organization.
Learning and knowledge management should become an embedded part of each business process like any other transversal governance process, such as risk management, compliance or professional development. In this regard, the aim is to organize knowledge sharing and learning as a usual part of day-to-day activity – written working procedures should be part of the implementation of any new activity or process, and the lessons learned should be documented as any other process output. A shared library with frequently asked questions and new experiences could increase the speed of processes and help avoid bottlenecks.
Organizational culture plays a major role in enabling the learning process and making it efficient and embraced by the whole organization and each team member. Based on organizational values and an open working environment, the learning process could become very motivating and easy to implement. And as usual, the tone from the top is very important. If the organizational culture admits open discussions, different opinions and brainstorming, then the learning process will become part of daily life and a normal way of sharing experiences, challenges and solutions. When mistakes sharing and discussions are encouraged, not prohibited, by line managers and board members, we all have the chance to learn from the past and do our job better in the future. Of course, process improvement in this case is critical, because if people do not learn from mistakes, then knowledge sharing does not achieve its objectives.
It seems to be so complicated but as a matter of fact, we all are already learning organizations – we all have written procedures, induction and learning on the job processes, and internal professional development programs, which are important elements of a learning organization. The difference is in the level of maturity. And the objective now is to put an emphasis on governance, processes and organizational culture in order to make them facilitators for increasing the level of maturity of learning and knowledge sharing in our institutions. As public institutions, we manage an enormous volume of complex knowledge, and our staff has a high level of competence and expertise. Our role now is to enable the sharing and preserving of institutional knowledge. On this road, we have the CEF as a partner and consultant to advise us how to become a mature learning organization.