patrick leddin

How to Create a Culture That is Continuously Learning and Growing

Organizations that fail to continuously improve their capabilities will inevitably fade away. Creating a culture that is continually learning and growing is essential to the future of your organization.

Creating this type of an organization is a leader’s job – it can’t be outsourced.

Let’s face it… In many organizations, employees have become so entrenched with how they have historically done things that they fail to look for better ways to perform. Sure, some have tried to implement continuous improvement efforts like total quality management or six sigma. Although laudable, few of these efforts have managed to become ingrained in the culture. This often occurs not because the initiative was a bad idea, but because the implementation approach was flawed.

You can’t set-up an office to manage these initiatives and expect the culture to be driven by an isolated team separate from the leaders and team members who touch the work everyday. This outside in approach simply doesn’t work. Putting it simply – you can’t outsource continuous improvement. After all, what happens when the effort stalls or runs headlong into another goal?

Maybe you are saying, “that might be true for other organizations, but we are flexible, nimble, alert to change, and constantly improving everything that they do.”

If that’s true, then you are the exception. A global survey of companies in all major industries finds that more than 60 percent have tried and failed to implement continuous improvement systems, and that doesn’t even count those who haven’t tried. Those who have succeeded cite leadership commitment as by far the major reason for their success, and those who have failed (surprise!) overwhelmingly point to leaders’ lack of commitment as the cause of the failure (88 percent!).[1]

What about your team…

·     Do you work for an organization that continually improving?

·     Does your own team have a systematic approach to improving what they do?

·     Do you have evidence that your core processes are getting better all the time?

And, what about yourself…

·     Are you mentally and physically sharp?

·     Are you a “continuous learner”?

·     Do you work to keep your most important relationships healthy?

I encourage you to answer these questions on your own. Then, ask your teammates to answer them. The conversations that your answers spark may just what you need to get things moving in the right direction.


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<FN>[1] J.V. Kovach, et al. “The Use of Continuous Improvement Techniques: A Survey-Based Study of Current Practices,” International Journal of Engineering, Science and Technology, vol. 3, no. 7 (2011), 89-100.


Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

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How to Own a Room; A Firsthand Lesson from Iceland’s Prime Minister

I recently delivered a presentation on leadership at Iceland’s National Government Day. The event took place at Harpa, Reykjavik’s inconic concert hall and convention center, and served as a celebration of Iceland’s 100 years of sovereignty. 500 Icelandic leaders, from all facets of the country’s government, attended the session.

Great Leaders Know How to Create the Conditions for Engagement

The vast majority of employees are disengaged from their work and you – not the CEO, the HR department, or someone else in the organization – are key to addressing the issue.

Don’t believe me?

Here are two findings from Gallup:

  • Only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged in their work. This means that, “one in eight workers — roughly 180 million employees in the countries studied — are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations.”