Learning in this context is self-discovery of something not known to the learner, even if well-known to others. Even in classroom teaching of well-known basics, students are frequently asked to do experiments and exercises so that they experience a modicum of discovery on their own, doing more than absorbing rote facts.
In work organizations, learning processes can be divided into two classes:
1. Continuous improvement (of existing methods and processes)
2. Innovative improvement (creating different products and processes, possibly based on different principles). Innovation is more than invention; refinement of concept for acceptance in use constitutes real innovation — basic changes in what we do or how we do it.
Techniques for continuous improvement have been widely deployed in the last decade or two. They range from “lean operations” to “Six-Sigma,” with many techniques in common. Problem solving techniques for continuous improvement are all based on some variant of the scientific method. They may or may not be well-used, and they take discipline practice to learn to use them well, and habitually.
Innovative improvement is less structured. Technical innovation may go back to basic science and try to devise an entirely new approach. Innovation also includes trying very different processes as defined by a different business model — a different approach to customer service. And a major innovation may involve both technology and different processes with customers.
All this together implies that an organization uses a superior learning methodology so people are not constantly “reinventing the wheel” or losing time “going down blind alleys.” New ideas are conceived, tested, and tried with a minimum of errors and false starts.