All About Learning Organization

CoolAvenues Newswire | January 23,2014 05:17 pm IST

With businesses facing intense competition, only organizations that continuously strive to learn will survive. The pressure for better level of performances and improvements needed today requires the will to learn.

In the new learning organization people will aim high, learn to create the results they desire, and reap the bottom-line benefits necessary to sustain success in the global marketplace. Says Aries De Geus, head of planning for Royal Dutch/Shell, "The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage." The learning organization is what a corporation can and should be.

Definitions by Key Writers

"The essence of organizational learning is the organization's ability to use the amazing mental capacity of all its members to create the kind of processes that will improve its own."

- Nancy Dixon


"A Learning Company is an organization that facilitates the learning of all its members and continually transforms itself."

- M. Pedler, J. Burgoyne and Tom Boydell


"Organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to learn together."

- Peter Senge


Why Do We Need a Learning Organization

Six Learning Disabilities

Though we may see and think in straight lines, reality is made up of circles. Linear thinkers are always looking for a thing or person who is responsible. Systems thinkers take on greater responsibility for events, because their perspective suggests that everyone shares responsibility for problems generated by a system. The following corporate learning disabilities arise when we view the world in linear, and not systematic, ways: -

Most people confuse their jobs with their identities
Some organizations and people find an external agent to blame when problems arise, a result of looking at the world in non-systematic ways
Illusion of taking charge
We're dominated by events. Events distract us from seeing long-term patterns of change that lie behind them, and that, of course, inhibits us from understanding these patterns
People often never experience the consequences of many of their most important decisions directly. It may take years, for instance, to see the consequences of R&D decisions
To keep up the appearance of a cohesive team, they hide disagreement and come up with watered-down decisions that everyone can live with

The antidote to these learning disabilities and to the high mortality rate among companies is to practice the five disciplines of a learning organization. Learning organizations learn to innovate constantly by paying attention to these five "component technologies." They are never mastered, but the best organizations practice them continuously.

1. Systems thinking. Systems thinking are a framework for seeing patterns and interrelationships. Systems thinking make these realities more manageable; it's the antidote for feelings of helplessness.

2. Personal mastery. The discipline of personal mastery includes a series of practices and principles. Three important elements are personal vision, creative tension and commitment to truth.

3. Mental models. We understand the world and take action in it based on notions and assumptions that may reside deeply in the psyche. We may not be aware of the effect these models have on our perception and behavior, yet they have the power to move us forward or hold us back.

4. Shared vision. No organization becomes great without goals, values, and missions that become shared throughout the organization. Shared vision is vital for learning organizations that want to provide focus and energy for its employees.

5. Team learning. In teams, each member is committed to continual improvement, each suspends judgment as to what's possible and so removes mental limitations, each shares a vision of greatness, and the team's collective competence is far greater than any individual's.

Salient Features of a Learning Organization

A learning environment gives organizations the possibilities to discover whom they are, where they want to go, and define the quality of life they wish to pursue. A learning organization is one where people at all levels, individually and collectively, continually increase their capacity to produce results that they really care about. It is no longer learning per se, but lots of learning to help improve performance.

A learning organization taps into the talent pool and opens opportunities for people to discover their abilities. Many companies have tried to create such an organization using the same methods, tools and models that reflect their current organizational thinking. Some see the concept of the learning organization as a command to increase training, conduct process-improvement teams or implement strategic planning. At the heart of a learning organization is a shift of mind - from seeing ourselves as separate from the world to connected to the world, from seeing problems as caused by someone or something 'out there' to seeing how our own actions create the problems we experience. A learning organization is a place where people are continually discovering how they create their reality and how they can change it.

Creating a Learning Organization


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