David Garvin his 1993 Harvard Business Review article Building a Learning Organization defines a learning organization as "skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights." A learning organization is one that proactively and continually seeks out factual knowledge, shares that knowledge within the organization and then uses that knowledge to guide its future behavior.
Garvin identifies five key activities of learning organizations. These include:
- Systematic problem solving
- Experimentation with new ideas and approaches
- Learning from their own experiences, both good and bad
- Learning from the experiences and best practices of others
- Transferring knowledge quickly and efficiently throughout the organization
Now imagine an entire camp where systematic feedback is regularly gathered on key facets of the program, that feedback is shared and discussed with the staff, new ideas are implemented based the feedback and then the process is repeated over and over again. That's a camp that's a learning organization.