Learning Teams have experienced a massive growth in awareness and significance as a growing number of organisation begin to adopt contemporary approaches to safety including HOP and Safety Differently. Human and Organisational Performance (HOP) builds on a number of principles to think about and reflect on humans performing work within organisations, and to help improve organisational performance by focusing on the interactions of humans and organisations. The principles shape and influence the way organisations think and act, and how they view success and failure. A key element is that ‘learning is vital’ and that organisations need to create an understanding of how human behaviour is shaped by the context surrounding the work. Organisations have to explore and understand normal work (the blue line), contrast this against work-as-planned (the black line), and identify occasions and reasons when actual work matches and differs from planned operation. Insights from the field promote operational excellence: the ability of an organisation to continuously and effectively learn from itself. The aim is to make operational and organisational knowledge readily accessible to help management make well-informed decisions.
What is a Learning Team?
A Learning Team is a facilitated conversation between those that do the work and those that manage and coordinate the work to share operational insight, experience and stories of work with the aim of improving. They rely on the input of field experts, the people who do the work every day and are intimately aware not only of the challenges, the goal conflicts, resource constraints but also how these are dealt with from day to day.
Learning Teams focus on how work really gets done, what we call the blue line as opposed to how we imagine work gets done, the black line. Through focusing on the reality of how work gets done we can identify more effective levers for change than traditional safety tools typically allow. Learning teams allow our people to provide both the insight into their work and the solutions to make it better.
While Learning Teams can generate reports and actions much like traditional methods the real benefits are seen in the engagement and commitment generated. The depth of learning and insight enable better solutions and decision making and the stories shared post learning team can be transformational.
When to Conduct a Learning Team
Learning Teams can be run in response to negative events, (accidents, incidents, near misses) and in the absence of a negative event, when operation looks perfectly normal and safe. In fact we have found that for organisations just beginning to use Learning Teams the best results are achieved when Learning Teams are focused on normal work i.e. well away from a negative event and all of the associated challenges and pressures. Problem processes, difficult tasks and known hot-spots provide both the opportunity to gain confidence with the Learning Team process and typically gain strong traction and engagement with the front line. The operational insights gained along with the early successes of front line instigated fixes and improvements validates the process to management and helps to build trust in the process for both managers and workers.
The Benefits of Learning Teams
Learning Teams provide us with an understanding of how our people get the job done, creating success, often despite challenges and less than perfect circumstances. The insights gained provide managers with a view of the blue and black lines, the proximity of operation to risks and hazards, occasions and reasons when planned and actual work differ, and an idea of how safety and risk, efficiencies and inefficiencies are produced within the organisation on a daily basis. Learning teams, as with our Field Insights process, provide opportunities to learn from and understand everyday work, including:
- Planned and actual work and potential gaps thereof;
- Occasions when work is successful and/or challenging;
- The availability or lack of resources (e.g. time, equipment, tools);
- Why it makes sense for people to do what they do or did (local rationality);
- People’s reasons to adapt performance to make operation safe and successful (performance variability);
- What people rely on to maintain safe operation;
- The conditions that influence people’s actions, behaviours and decisions (e.g. goal conflicts, enablers and constraints, demands and pressures).
Learning Teams assist organisations to promote operational learning and workforce engagement, create solutions to identified challenges and identify opportunities for improvement.
Learning Teams Assistance
Southpac can provide the following Learning Team assistance;
- Independent Learning Team Facilitation and Coaching
- Learning Team Training
Independent Learning Team Facilitation and Coaching
Whether you are looking for long term support with Learning Teams or short term assistance while your own team builds confidence and capability, our experienced HOP team can facilitate Learning Teams at your organisation. An independent consultant, separate from the organisational hierarchy can at times gain insights not readily shared internally, this is particularly the case in the early stages of HOP integration. As a standalone service or as part of a comprehensive undertaking, our team can assist with Learning Team facilitation.
Learning Team Training
The Southpac team provide comprehensive training in HOP and Learning Teams. Developed in cooperation with the world’s leading practitioners of HOP and Learning Teams, our course will provide you and your team with both the confidence and the skills to begin running Learning Teams back in your organisation. Through the HOP-LAB Masterclass Tour we also provide periodic opportunities to learn from the thought leaders and practitioners of Learning Teams. Training is available publicly and in-house by arrangement or as part of a wider HOP commitment. For more information about Learning Team training see the HOP Learning Team course page.
Want to know more about Learning Teams, interested in experiencing an expert facilitated Learning Team contact us now!