Most of the problems that the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors are trying to solve are complex, and most of the solutions that first come to mind have been ineffective as many systematic reviews have shown. Yet, organisations – whether funders or nonprofits – are not learning enough.

At its core, getting an individual or an organisation to be better at learning is a behaviour change challenge. As such, we look at it through the lens of a well-known behavioural change framework, the COM-B model, which argues that behaviour is influenced by: Capability, Opportunity and Motivation.

In the sections that follow, we reflect on how each of the core elements of the COM-B framework apply to the context of organisational learning.

Strengthening capability for learning
The COM-B model makes the distinction between physical capability and psychological capability. In applying this to the context of organisational learning, we define the first as the ability to understand and use MEL concepts, resources and processes – that is, producing meaningful data, analysing and interpreting it, and the second as the ability to objectively interpret the results from the MEL data and act upon them.

Creating opportunity – or an enabling environment – for change
Tackling individuals’ MEL capability problems within an organisation is not sufficient to create a learning organisation. An enabling environment is needed to provide the opportunity for individuals to use their MEL knowledge and skills. The COM-B framework suggests that this encompasses both the physical opportunity (e.g. funds and time) and the social opportunity (e.g. the prevailing culture, norms and values).

Igniting motivation for learning
For this last component, we draw on the framework’s distinction between automatic motivation and reflective motivation. We conceptualise the first as the motivation to work with the learning tools and processes because you are directed to do so, and the second as stemming from the intrinsic belief in value of MEL to the work and to the organisation.

Read the full article about organizational learning by Joachim Krapels, Julie Bélanger, and Loïc Watine at Alliance Magazine.