Building a culture of learning at scale: learning networks for systems change.

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Building a culture of learning at scale: learning networks for systems change.
This scoping paper explores the question ‘what would it take to build a culture of learning at scale?’. It focuses on systems-wide learning that can help to inform systems change efforts in complex contexts. To answer this question, literature was reviewed from across diverse disciplines and the realms of education, innovation systems, systems thinking and knowledge management. This inquiry was also supported by in-depth interviews with numerous specialists from the for-purpose sector and the examination of several case studies of learning across systems. The goal was to derive common patterns to inform a ‘learning for systems change’ framework. Learning for systems change is critical when working with complexity. The dynamic nature of complex adaptive systems requires an ability to continually sense and learn from the system and adapt accordingly. This is because the nature of the challenge and ‘what works’ to meet the challenge is continually shifting (Lowe and Plimmer, 2019). This requires an ongoing process of iterative inquiry that draws upon wisdom and insights from across the system. Such learning challenges traditional siloes of expertise and organisational boundaries (Clarke et al., 2019). Learning is not simply a nice to have. It is critical for greater impact and improved outcomes, particularly in mission-driven organisations and initiatives (Price et al., 2019). In this paper, a ‘learning networks’ approach is proposed, one that draws upon individual, group and systems-wide learning to build capacity and resilience for systems change in uncertain environments. This fills a gap in the literature where the focus is largely on learning within organisations. Instead, the focus here is on what is required to support learning to occur across scales and boundaries - from the individual to system-wide. A simple meta-framework for developing learning networks is proposed that includes high level guidance on the enabling conditions - the mindsets, relationships, processes and structures- that would enable learning networks to flourish.
Orange Compass & Paul Ramsay Foundation
28/10/2021, 08:11
McKenzie, F. (2021). Building a culture of learning at scale: learning networks for systems change. Orange Compass &  Paul Ramsay Foundation.