Ecosystem Learning Culture

Last week, we highlighted what a learning culture is. This week we aim to help to define what is needed to create a healthy learning culture.

Imagine the following scenario:

You are a sales person at a SaaS company. You have been hearing about partnerships for a while now, but you aren’t sure what it all means for you. You receive an email informing you that you’ve been placed into a peer group, a cohort, and they’d like for you to take a quick assessment to evaluate how they can help you to start embracing partnerships as a keystone to your sales motion. You groan.

How long is this gonna take? You take the assessment, and introduce yourself to your cohort on Slack. The rest of the cohort also introduces themselves, but none of you understand what this is all about.

Within a day, somebody from the partnership team has reached out to you to talk about your assessment. They’re curious about how they can help you. They want to understand what barriers you might be experiencing when it comes to partner involvement.

This feels different. Nobody has ever asked you for your input before. The partnership team also poses these questions to your Slack group, and encourages you to start collaborating with your cohort about your challenges, and encourages you to share any successes. Your cohort is engaged, so you start to engage.

Within a week, the partnership team reaches out with a new tool to help you learn about your ecosystem. They provide you with a tutorial on how to use the tool. They ask you to put your feedback of the tool into Slack with your cohort, and to reach out if it isn’t quite solving a problem, or is introducing friction, rather than helping. They also give you a suggestion for a podcast that they think you might find useful. You subscribe.

You use the tool. It fits into your workflow. It’s interactions are automated, and you’re grateful for an opportunity to learn about your ecosystem and you’re thinking about how to bring it up in your next customer meeting. You tell your cohort.

All of this feels quite different from any learning experience you’ve had before. You feel heard and supported. You’re finding partnerships to be a useful tool in your tool belt. You want to share your wins and frustrations and feel like you have a place to do that. Your skillset and expertise are growing, and your numbers are reflecting that.

All of a sudden, you are in a healthy learning culture.

So how does an organization create a healthy learning culture like this?

The same way that an organization creates anything it values: Resources and influence.

A healthy learning culture around ecosystems will require executive buy-in, as well as cross functional collaboration. 85% of B2B sales leaders believe that solutions selling will be a required skill for sales teams in the next 12-18 months. They also believe that only 55% of their teams have this skill.

Ecosystem Chiefs are going to need to work alongside revenue leaders and the L&D team (dare I say Learning Experience Chief) to establish a healthy ecosystem learning culture by defining the following elements of a learning system:

Shared VisionShared AssumptionsShared StoriesShared Experiences

The idea here is to articulate where your organization is, where it wants to head, and the actions and systems that got you where you are and what needs to change in order t0 get to the future you want.

Healthy learning cultures create results.

Companies with healthy learning cultures have 107% higher three-year average earning per share and 57% higher three-year average share price.

Learning cultures inspire innovation and agility. They’re responsive to customers and employees and are able to do more with less. Increased productivity drives costs down, encourages upward mobility and employee retention, and less time is wasted on creating unseen content because more time is spent integrating learning into the work.

When you combine these benefits with the shorter sales cycles, bigger deal sizes, and higher close rates that already accompany successful ecosystems, and you’ve got a recipe for massive business gains.

Next week we’ll take a look at at some systemic components to learning culture creation.

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