Aligning Workplace Learning to Organisational Paradigms

Being exposed to Reinventing Organizations has been incredibly effective for me to better articulate the dynamics of how a company or large groups within a company are conducting management strategy. That articulation then removes judgment, on my part at least, and provides simple acknowledgement of current status. Models and frameworks such as exhibit 1 below help us develop necessary shared language, and in this particular one, Laloux helps us visualise more effective strategy for incremental evolution forward.


My mind then goes to the learning. How does workplace learning shift? Can individuals in a heavy Orange environment really value the learning mindset found in Green? What even is Teal in workplace learning?

Well, we do have the classic pencil in the eye training … here are the slides, the lecturer, the test. I see this as strongly Amber thinking. There has been a major evolutionary push across the mindset of workplace learning with brilliant work like what Sharon Bowman and Julie Dirksen has given us. I find that what Training from the Back of the Room (Bowman) and Design for how People Learn (Dirksen) provide is classic Green thinking. These learning methods that are focused on engaging on the individual’s intrinsic motivation and engaging collaborative learning in order to achieve transformational experiences. However, what these learning paradigms also do is allow us to take transformational opportunities and stick them into Orange. Rather than an innovative conversation that pulls in a trusting, multi-perspective, and continuous improvement approach,  we can take the Orange approach, assign a discussion question in a breakout group, grade on participation, and move on. In other words, these learning approaches can be taken as simply “better processes” or make learning inherent in how we think.

Sound familiar, fellow Agilists?


Michael Sahota’s image gives us a great visual of the value between practice and mindset. So how does this align to how we conduct workplace learning? Let’s skip the Amber learning method I described earlier because while we still see it in practice, we really do know better. However, moving to Orange, it’s frankly easier. Safer. It’s easy for the designer to develop a learning experience that requires accountability, and it’s safer for the participant to be able to lift that certificate and say, “see, I know this now.”

Green, however, represents the engaged and continuous learning mindset. We pursue learning informally and formally based on motivation and empowerment. We can fall back to the meritocracy if we need (safety), but we can extend the learning (if facilitated well) beyond the original parameters and make it extremely applicable to our situations.

It is my humble opinion that Teal represents the self-directed targeted learning based on the learner’s immediate need. The learning theory of constructivism is nestled nicely within the living organism metaphor associated with Teal, with the focus being on extrapolating meaning from experience in order to construct new knowledge. This manifests through transformation, experiential learning, communities of practice, and reflective practice.

Here’s my challenge, though … how can we possibly ask organisations to evolve from Green to Teal, or move away from Orange … if our workplace learning is still steeped in the Industrial Age?

If we are going to help organisations evolve paradigms, then the workplace learning must do more than follow the practices of 21st century skills; we must engage in a mindset towards collaboration, trust, visible feedback & reflection, and culture; all in the context of visible cycles of learning, as is shared in from the Agile in Education compass.


Crossposted at LinkedIn

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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.