Bridgespan Report Identifies Challenges, Best Practices for Organizational Learning

While most nonprofit leaders view knowledge sharing as a critical means to advance their organizations' missions, many organizations struggle to do it effectively, a new report from the Bridgespan Group finds.

Based on a survey of 116 nonprofits, the report, The Challenges of Organizational Learning, found that most nonprofits, regardless of size and field, struggled to develop clear, measurable goals that connect knowledge sharing to improvements in performance; provided insufficient incentives for individuals and/or teams to participate in organizational learning; and lacked appropriate processes for capturing and sharing learning that fit the way people work. According to the report, nonprofit leaders need to implement best practices such as articulating clear goals around knowledge sharing; incentivizing knowledge sharing by better defining rewards; identifying specific roles to establish who is responsible for collecting, sharing, and applying knowledge; and matching technology to intuitive, people-centered processes for knowledge collection and sharing.

"Developing and integrating organizational knowledge into everyday practice can be a powerful tool for multiplying an organization's impact, especially as it grows," said Bridgespan partner Katie Smith Milway, who co-authored the report. "Although 98 percent of the organizations we surveyed said they collect a lot of information, a third of them reported that they were unable to integrate it in a meaningful way into program activities. We wanted to look at ways to address this problem."

"Bridgespan Study Surfaces Three Common Challenges to Organizational Learning, Outlines Steps to Bridge Them" Bridgespan Group Press Release 05/20/2011.