The Dynamic Learning Playbook: Your One-stop-shop for Turning Learning into Action

Published on

April 17, 2019

In 2016, we launched an initiative to collect insights from our partners. Our approach involved reviewing partner documents and interviewing each partner to understand key “lessons learned” from their programs. 

While this exercise yielded some useful insights for the Lab team, the most important lesson learned was that it did not generate significant value to our partners. Many found the process onerous, and once the aggregated insights were shared back to partners, too much time had elapsed for them to be actionable.

It was clear that we had to rethink the approach entirely.

This led to the development of a new partner-led approach to learning – a process whereby we provide support to our partners to improve on their own capacity to capture, analyze, and synthesize insights internally to ultimately share those insights with the broader sector.

Over the course of six months, the Lab and Dalberg Design worked with partners to understand their learning challenges and co-design potential solutions to those challenges. The learning solutions we co-designed were piloted by three partners and are compiled in the newly released, “Dynamic learning playbook: Intentional learning practices to achieve social impact.”

The Dynamic Learning Playbook


What do we mean by “intentional learning”?

Broadly defined, learning is the process of acquiring knowledge or skills. Intentional learning, on the other hand, requires having goals to direct that process, and systems to help turn learning into action in a way that is consistent with organizational objectives. Bottom line, for an organization to improve, it must be intentional in the way it captures, synthesizes and applies the knowledge and skills it acquires.


All organizations learn – whether they consciously choose to or not – it is a fundamental requirement for their sustained existence. Some firms deliberately advance organizational learning, developing capabilities that are consistent with their objectives; others make no focused effort and, therefore, acquire habits that are counterproductive. Nonetheless, all organizations learn.

- DANIEL H. KIM, “The link between individual learning & organizational learning,” MIT Sloan Management



What are the key elements of intentional learning within an organization?

Leveraging partner interviews and desk research on existing organizational learning frameworks, four similar elements of organizational learning emerge as the key building blocks for intentional learning: supportive leadership, learning culture, defined learning structures and intuitive knowledge processes.


While there were nuances across partners, depending on factors like team size and structure, we found common challenges that touched across the four main elements of learning. The Playbook highlights these common learning challenges and recommends approaches and resources to overcome them.


How to use the Dynamic Learning Playbook

The Playbook serves as a guide for any organization looking to develop new or improve existing organizational learning practices to better achieve social impact. It is an interactive document, which allows you to click through to access different sections, tools, and external resources.

To get started, read through the four common challenges that correspond to the four key elements of intentional learning, to identify the challenges that resonate most with you or your organization.

PLLA table

Clicking on each challenge will take you to a more detailed view of potential solutions: a number of tools, case studies, and resources that detail varying approaches to tackling the challenge are provided. This includes tools that draw on firsthand experience from the Lab’s partners, publicly available tools from external toolkits, and external resources from leaders in the development sector.

For each tool, we’ve included a “how-to” guide to support implementation within your own organization. For tools that were developed by the Lab and Dalberg Design, you can download these to your desktop and adapt or modify them to suit your own purposes.


Dig deeper by watching our webinar

Learn more about the Dynamic Learning Playbook through this webinar recording featuring the Lab, Dalberg Design, and AgDevCo:

Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab present findings from their Dynamic Learning Playbook


Help us improve the Dynamic Learning Playbook

As we learn from our partners’ experiences implementing many of the tools within the Playbook, we’ll continue to update the content with new tools, case studies and external resources.

  • Have you used resources from the Playbook within your organization?
  • Do you have a tool you think should be included in the Playbook?
  • Do you want to learn more about implementing these tools within your own organization?

We’d like to hear from you! Get in touch with us at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Original Content

The Learning Lab works to identify and share knowledge relevant to our learning agenda and our users, but also to create new knowledge through research and facilitated learning. Original content from the Learning Lab includes news about the Lab, analyses we've conducted, knowledge products we've created, and posts we've written about other relevant initiatives.

Dalberg Design
Learning Lab contributor

Dalberg Design engages with people, communities, and organizations to design creative solutions that support their needs and aspirations for a better life. We use participatory methods to understand and address the root causes and complex systems that limit economic opportunity and human potential in under-served communities around the world. 

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