Culture, Curation, Contribution, Collaboration: The 4 Cs for Future Learning Organizations

Sep 25, 2017 12:49:00 PM / by Larry Durham


four cs diamonds image - culture - curation - contribution - colaboration

You Say "Evolution,"  I Say "Disruption"

Thousands of articles have been written in the last few years about the changes that are happening to learning within organizations. Some refer to those changes as ‘disruption’ while others call it ‘evolution’, but whether it is positive or negative everyone agrees that it has come quickly and seems to be accelerating into the future.

Having been in the corporate learning space for more than 25 years, and 14 of those in strategic consulting, I have witnessed first-hand the many different approaches that L&D Groups have taken to prepare, or respond, to the changes that are coming. Like most functions reacting to rapid change, Learning functions have sought out new technology solutions to ‘prepare’ for these new ‘less-structured’ ways of learning. And almost without exception, there is disappointment because while the technology works, the organization rarely realizes the planned benefits because the vision for learning and the shift in culture required gets little attention. For any organization to thrive in the ‘New World of Learning’, they will have to treat it as a full-fledged transformation that addresses the holistic aspects of learning within the organization: vision, strategy, culture, structure, process, technology, people, content, investment, and measurement.

But rather than ‘solving’ for every element needed to create a learning organization that performs at the highest levels, I wanted to provide four topics that will be critical for successfully supporting learning within organizations in the future.


While most organizations today tout the importance of learning, very few have made any significant investment in changing their culture as it relates to learning. Many organizations want to evolve; however, training completion metrics and number of training hours consumed/delivered continue to propagate a ‘check the box’ mentality. A simple first step for organizations should be to step back and define what ‘learning’ means in their organization, the impact it can and should have on the business, and finally what metrics would accurately reflect their new vision of learning.


With the speed of information accelerating, we often hear of training that becomes obsolete before it is delivered. Curation is the process for sourcing, validating, selecting, aligning, and presenting relevant content to the right people at the right time. Gone are the days of creating from scratch, because why create what already exists?

There are numerous curation tools available for organization that want to organize curated content. Also, we are starting to see providers emerging who can provide services related to curation within these numerous platforms and technologies.

Learn more about our Customized Curation Services


Learning within organizations has always been an exercise in consumption. Somewhere along the way learning and training became synonymous, to the point if we say learning, employees and leaders assume we are talking about a training created by L&D for consumption by employees. The fact is, the potential for breakout performance within organizations is when employees begin contributing their learning back into the organization.

While the thought of employees submitting information, content, and processes for others to access immediately raises concerns for many about accuracy, the value of learning for organizations expands exponentially when employees begin to share their learnings.


In today’s ubiquitous world of social media, collaborating or weighing in on other’s ideas is almost second nature. However, most organizations haven’t been able to solve the promise of social learning. I remember a call I received from the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) of a large tech firm a few years back, “Larry, can you help us with social learning?” I said, “Sure, what exactly can I help you with?” The CLO said, “I don’t know, I just know we are supposed to be doing social learning.” While this story seems funny in hindsight, it accurately illustrates many of the conversations I have with organizations, even today.

Collaboration is quite powerful, because it extends the learning from one individual to many, it expands upon the learning and the application, and ultimately provides learning and improvement to the organization.

In Summary

The external forces of change are driving the need for changes in learning organizations.  Many learning organizations work to identify the best “technology-enabled” solution to grapple with these changes and to maintain currency.  The problem is that for any new technology to work in an organization there are a myriad of critical topics, which must be considered as well.  We addressed four of those in this article:  Culture, Curation, Content, and Collaboration.


Written by Larry Durham, Partner, St. Charles Consulting Group


Topics: Collaboration, Culture, Curation, Blog, Contribution

Larry Durham

Written by Larry Durham