Team Learning is commonly described as “an ongoing process of action and reflection through which teams acquire, combine, and apply knowledge.” Teams can learn through interactions within – this is referred to as local learning – and from interactions outside the team (i.e. distal learning). The former contributes to efficiency and the latter to innovativeness.
However, team learning cannot happen without individual learning. Then again, individual learning within a team does not automatically lead to team learning.
So, how DOES team learning happen? Research is fairly quiet about this subject. Until last month that is…
Kostopoulos and others link individual learning and team learning in their recent article: “Structure and Function of Team Learning Emergence”.
At the level of individual learning you have two processes: intuition and interpretation. The latter, interpretation: explaining through words and/or actions of an insight, links the individual level with the team level. At the team level – in order to see team learning happen – integration and codification need to happen.
Integration is the process of developing a shared understanding and codification puts knowledge and ideas into practice to reflect and build (second order learning). These processes are much more than simply adding up the individual learning experiences.
These are fairly abstract processes… However, a better understanding of these fundamental processes and how to recognise/measure these helps to better guide team learning processes.
In a good team workshop there are processes in place to practice moving from individual learning to team learning.