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Six Enablers of Emergent Learning

Creating the conditions to foster emergent learning in organizations

Source | | Sahana Chattopadhyay

Why emergent learning?

As I wrote in my earlier articleIntended learning happens from a place of knowing and against a set of specific goals. Emergent learning happens from a place of reflection and sensemaking.

Intoday’s technology-facilitated and boundaryless world, emergent learning takes place at the intersection of ongoing human experience and tacit knowledge, technology, collaboration, complex and novel challenges, and conditions of uncertainty and ambiguity. I believe holding space for emergent learning is one of the preconditions for creating a thrivable and anti-fragile organization, one which flourishes in the face of change and disruption by leaning into the emerging future. I have written about designing organizations as interconnected communities to stay responsive and resilient here and here.

By embracing the power of networks and social platforms along with the affordances of mobile and cloud, distributed and boundaryless organizations can become platforms for emergent learning. When fully realized and supported, emergent learning can transform an organization — making it agile, adaptable, and resilient as well as responsive, innovative, and evolutionary. Emergent learning is always contextual, collaborative, and goes beyond the norms of intended learning. It cuts across formal organizational structures and siloes and connects the inherent tacit knowledge and the ongoing collective experience, building a shared awareness of moving toward a larger Evolutionary Purpose for all concerned.

How is it different from continuous learning?

Creating a culture of continuous learning is something that all organizations strive for and wish to achieve. However, I am distinguishing between continuous learning and emergent learning thus:

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