As the world evolves, we must develop an adaptable workforce that is ready and willing to change. So, in episode 33 of the Retail Transformation Show, learning strategist, Paul Jocelyn, explores the 3 characteristics of learning organisations and gives you some tangible steps and questions that you can put into action straight away.

In this episode, listen and you’ll find out:

  • What are the 3 characteristics of a “learning organisation”
  • The tangible next steps or questions that someone (you!) can action immediately. 
  • What was the important topic that we didn’t cover in the episode. (But that I wished that we had covered it!)

This is the second and final part of my conversation with Paul Jocelyn. Part 1 was in episode 32 and you can listen to that episode now. 

Listen to the first part of this conversation in episode 32

Introducing Paul Jocelyn

Paul-JocelynPaul helps businesses to revolutionise their learning capability. He does this as a consultant and by empowering the L&D department to proactively work with the wider organisation and to sure they are skilled and equipped to deliver the business strategy.

He believes “Learning and Development” (L&D) should have a seat at the strategic table. And with that, the new role for L&D should be to build an adaptable, connected organisation capable of evolving and shifting faster than their competitors.

Paul help L&D teams and business leaders develop and embed continuous learning strategies to improve adaptability, alignment and performance. Then, L&D can and will play a critical role in developing and enabling the future business strategy.

You can find Paul on Twitter @pauljocelyn, on LinkedIn and by email at

In addition, Paul Jocelyn was also one of my special guests in episode 13 where he shared more about what’s exciting him in 2019.

3 characteristics of a learning organisation

A learning organisation will be adaptable to the changing world of tomorrow. Furthermore, they’ll be adaptable to how their role in the business of tomorrow shifts and transforms too. 

So, in the episode, Paul clarifies the 3 key elements of a learning organisation:

  1. Regularly reflecting on performance. 
  2. Breaking down silos.
  3. Using a balanced set of measures.

It’s easy to pay lip service to these characteristics. It’s easy to say “oh yes, we do that”. But you do have to give yourself a hard critique and really challenge yourself. Do you actually do it or do you just wished and hoped that you would. After all, “hope is not a strategy” [Rick Page]. 

But the good news is that Paul laid out some action plans that we can put into practice straight away. 

Tangible actions to start to become a learning organisation

Regularly reflecting on performance

The challenge here is that there always seems to be something more pressing to do. Paul mentions the “Plan – Do – Review” cycle that we were both familiar with from Tesco. But, let’s be honest, the “review” portion often got postponed, delayed and cancelled. Urgent work crops up and we end up prioritising it over this important work. 

To shift this, Paul Jocelyn tells us to really commit to doing an “after action review.” Set it as the routine. Schedule it into the diary. Make it a habit to ensure that it’s consistently happening every time. 

Tip 1: Genuinely prioritise your time for reflection. Please don’t just give it lip service and then find something better to do.

Breaking down silos

Silos is one of the buzzwords of modern day corporate speak. But whether you like the language or not, they definitely exist. 

Functional silos. Experience silos. Hierarchical silos. And the list could go on. Silos prevent effective communication within and organisation and hamper the communication to customers and the outside world. 

Paul suggests that we look to create better connections between people to break down these silos. We should all encourage functional diversity, so there is different perspective to any given situation.

We should also look critically from the customer perspective. The question that needs to be considered is: in your organisation and culture, how do you encourage better conversations and better discussion.

Tip 2: Create functional diversity and opportunities for people to build relationships. Creating familiarity and closer connections will help to break down your silos.

Using a balanced set of measures

Retail is brilliant at using measures and KPIs to track performance.

But, as Paul points out, these KPIs and metrics are usually backward looking. Often, they are historical measures that have always been used. However, in today’s omnichannel world, these are quickly becoming out of date measures. “You get what you measure” Paul tells us. So, naturally, there tends to be a strong focus on financials too.

“We very much look back and we talk money. I think under balancing measures, how about we think about, alongside that, looking forward and introducing some of those human characteristics.” Paul Jocelyn

Instead, Paul gives us some ideas and examples to help reset those measures and KPIs. So, consider more human or relationship based measures and, in turn, you’ll be continually thinking about them. 

Tip 3: Critically review your KPIs and consider how to evolve them to better match your future goals.

Adaptability is critical to be ready to accept change

Paul gives away more in the show, but essentially, you’ll want to take people out of their comfort zones. Nothing progressive ever happens in the comfort zone. So it is absolutely critical that if you want an adaptive organisation then you need to be able to give your people experience and exposure in coming out of their comfort zone.

Give them new experiences and feed their mind with new sources of information and insight. Help them with the opportunity to build their network and create new connections. In turn, that will help make your workforce more adaptable and will make change less scary. 

What were your key takeaways?

It would be great to hear what you thought of this episode. Reach out to Paul Jocelyn on LinkedIn and on Twitter (@pauljoceleyn). Or reach out to me, Oliver Banks on LinkedIn and on Twitter (@ollie_banks).

Thanks for listening to the Retail Transformation Show. It is a real PLEASURE to have you listening in each week. If you’re new, remember to subscribe. And if you’ve been here before, why not tell someone new to listen too. Perhaps that’s a friend, a colleague, team member or peer. I know that I will appreciate it and I’m sure they will appreciate you for it too. 

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