Learning organisations: About the pack

These cards are a resource pack, designed to give you information about learning organisations and informed decision-making. In many instances it is likely that the ideas are not new and the cards simply bring together in one place a lot of things that you already know. By reflecting and raising their awareness it is hoped that individuals at all levels will feel more confident about addressing issues within their own organisation.

They should be of benefit to service users and carers, frontline staff, senior managers, trustees and chief executives.

The cards aim to help you understand what a learning organisation is, and establish to what extent you are working in one or receiving services from one.The cards also give guidance on how you might move towards creating a culture of learning in the workplace. Our premise is that informed decision-making (derived from evidencebased practice) can best take place in the climate of a learning organisation, and that it is in everybody’s interests (service users, carers, senior managers and practitioners alike) to ensure that you are working in one or being served by one. Good practice and opportunities for learning are inextricably linked.

All the cards are interlinked but at the same time, some, especially those in the 'key characteristics’ and 'knowledge about learning organisations’ sections, can be used separately. For some individuals and groups it may be helpful to work through these cards first.They can be pinned on boards, incorporated into meetings and training sessions, and where applicable used in supervision.When used as a working tool during team days or management meetings they should be particularly useful if you are focusing on things you may need to change. Allow sufficient time for using the pack and implementing practice changes.

Card Categories

Key characteristics

These cards summarise the key characteristics of learning organisations and informed decision-making.

Knowledge about learning organisations

These cards provide knowledge about learning organisations and informed decision making in the form of key questions, and some practical ideas. These cards have been designed to act as a catalyst for thinking and discussion about organisations. The illustrative examples on the back are from the test sites used in the development of this pack, the project team’s own knowledge and experience, and research evidence.

The informed service user and carer

This booklet provides information that is of specific interest to service users and carers and is a guide to questions they might want to ask. It is likely to be particularly useful before contact begins, though it would also be helpful to look at it again once a service has been offered. Organisations will need to consider how this booklet is brought to the attention of service users and carers, and ways of making the best use of it. Clearly different service user groups will have different needs that have to be taken into account e.g. language, disability.

The informed frontline worker

This booklet outlines how frontline staff can use this pack and their special responsibilities for informed decision-making. There is also a checklist for supervision.

The informed policy maker

These cards are designed specifically for trustees, governors, members and senior managers.


This booklet gives brief summaries of some of the key research evidence involved in this work. It is included as optional reading for those who wish to know more about the thinking that underpins the pack. A booklet of quick references is also included.

Suggestions for using the cards

We suggest that you work with the cards one at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the task. This is particularly important when you are using the 'knowledge about learning organisations’ cards as a basis for discussion.We suggest that you plan in advance which card(s) you wish to work on: exactly how you use them will vary according to the setting and the individuals involved. At the very least you should be able to use them to influence your own immediate environment/sphere of activity, though you will also need to think about how to communicate the ideas that have been generated into the organisation as a whole. The style of leadership when discussing the pack should be enabling in order to generate ideas and maximise the learning.

These cards do not replace other quality assurance materials or systems, although they may complement them. There are deliberately no tick boxes as the aim is simply to trigger thinking and discussion. Nonetheless we assume you will need to decide what to do next and this may involve some action planning.