What does continuous learning really mean?

Categories: The Learning Insights

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Ankush Chopra



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Key Takeaways

  1. People learn to acquire new skills, perform an existing job better or to pursue interests
  2. Self-driven and repeated learning over time constitutes continuous learning
  3. Continuous learning can lead to business benefits like time reduction, cost reduction, or improved efficiencies

Continuous learning is a phrase that is often used with capacity building of people - self or others! However, have you ever thought, what does it really mean? How would you qualify if you or your colleagues invest in continuous learning? Is it measurable? Is there a measure that can be employed in order to make it simple for self, managers, or HR to monitor?

The good news first

Through all my years of consulting in this area, a lot of clients have asked me if I can define continuous learning. Can we measure it? The good news is that we can not only define it using a simple framework but also measure it.

What really qualifies as learning?

Let’s start by defining what is learning. Instead of a definition, I will share three tenets of learning:

  1. Learning required for doing a job: As individuals grow at workplaces, there is a need to learn a new skill or technology which is essential to perform a new job or a new role. This learning is essential, and individuals must gain these skills in order to deliver on basic expectations of their job. 
  2. Learning for improvement: These are skills learned in the drive for excellence or to do the same job better. These could be skills specific to your job or could be core skills that may help you do your job better, e.g. communication skills, productivity skills, etc. This is an important form of learning, as often it is not asked or mandated, however it creates a tremendous impact on your performance. 
  3. Learning due to interest: This is the learning which may not be related to your field of work. It may be in areas of interest, leadership, wellness, technology, etc. This keeps the mind agile and open to new thoughts.

People learn to acquire new skills, perform an existing job better or to pursue interests

When does learning become continuous?

There are two factors that are critical for a learning process to qualify as continuous learning.

What really qualifies as learning?

  1. There is an element of timely repeatability, which simply means you invest in learning frequently. It could be every month, quarter, etc., whether driven by need, interest, or just the desire to learn. 
  2. It is not dependent on anyone else. Individuals who believe or truly live the principle of continuous learning do not wait for anyone to nudge them to learn. They don't rely on external factors to drive their learning. Continuous learning is always self-driven. Occasionally your organization may support, however, the drive for continuous learning is always by the learner.

Self-driven and repeated learning over time constitutes continuous learning

Is there a way to measure the impact of continuous learning?

Now that you understand what is continuous learning, let us understand how can we measure it. There are simple business parameters that you can monitor to measure the impact. These are:

  1. Time reduction: Continuous learning helps you to do your task faster. Whether you are in an industry that has tangible output or in a knowledge industry where effort is critical, it is a parameter that you can easily measure. 
  2. Cost reduction: Another simple parameter is cost reduction in doing that job. It could be a reduction in errors, failures, equipment damage, etc. that you were able to achieve due to learning. 
  3. Increased efficiency: Continuous learning improves efficiency. You can measure efficiency improvements over a period of time for a task or an activity.
Image showing the components of learning, what makes it continuous and the business benefits

Continuous learning can lead to business benefits like time reduction, cost reduction, or improved efficiencies

As you can see these are everyday measures which you can use to assess the benefit introduced by learning. As an organization, it also opens up avenues for you to use your existing talent pool in newer areas without having to find people from outside who align with your organizational values and culture.


Continuous learning is much more than a buzzword. It is a reality. So, next time anyone talks about continuous learning, you can apply this framework and check if what they are saying is indeed continuous learning?

Also, apply this framework to yourself and ask the most critical question, “Are you investing in continuous learning, or are you still waiting for that outside nudge?”

If you are looking for learning solutions for your organization, then please connect with me by clicking here and I will be happy to learn more about your goals.

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