A Learning Maturity Model

Organizations sometimes define themselves in terms of maturity. Immature organizations succeed through the efforts of heroes–those individuals who work tirelessly and are not afraid to say yes to unplanned, ill-defined projects. Mature organizations, on the other hand, succeed through planning, predictability, and long-term thinking. The idea here is that immature organizations are unsustainable over the long term; mature or die.

I’m not an expert on organizational maturity models, and I don’t know about the validity of these models under informed critical scrutiny. But it is interesting to consider what a maturity model would look like specifically for training and learning groups.

Thinking about this question, I’d contrast immature and mature learning groups along the axes below. It’s important to note that these axes apply to training groups inside organizations, not necessarily to the organizations that they serve, though considering the learning maturity of whole firms would also be interesting.

Immature organizations tend to focus on… Mature organizations tend to focus on… Post-mature organizations tend to focus on…
Delivering information, covering the materials. Delivering instruction. Creating knowledge. Who works hardest in the classroom: instructors or learners?
Executing the logistics of training. Partnering with the business to determine learning strategy. What is our role in setting the firm’s strategic approach to learning?
Learner satisfaction. Data-driven decision making. Beautiful instruction. How do you decide whether courses were successful?
Finding subject matter experts who will agree to teach. Turning away volunteers; choosing from among the best. Everyone is a teacher. Is teaching experience part of the culture of achieving partner?
Adopting technology to bring down training costs. Adopting technology to increase effectiveness. Technology is transparent. What problems are you trying to solve by adopting a specific piece of technology?
Formal learning. Learning. Growth. How involved is the learning group in professional development planning? How involved is it in learning activities that are not for-credit?
Heroic efforts. Predictable lifecycles. Does the firm respect the learning group’s deadlines?

A couple of notes: This table represents continuums, not categories. The “post-modern” column is clearly speculative (and in some cases, where I have no idea what the future holds, blank).

This matrix is just a first draft. I’d certainly appreciate input. How mature is your learning group?


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