Does Your Organization Have A Learning Disability?

Posted by on Oct 13, 2019 in Continuous Improvement, Learning Organization | 0 comments

Organizations fail at alarming rates and in most companies that do there is an abundance of evidence in advance that the firm is in trouble.  Organizations fail to recognize these impending threats and understand their implications even when some individual managers are aware of it.

It is no accident that most organizations are poor learners.  The way they are designed and managed, the way employees think and interact create learning disabilities.  Many employees see themselves working in a system over which they have little or no influence.  Everyone tries to do their job, put in their time, and cope with the day to day forces over which they have no control.  When this occurs employees focus only on their position and have little sense of responsibility for the results produced when all positions interact.

Twenty years ago, Peter Senge, published his book “The Fifth Discipline, The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization” in which he identified five “component disciplines” that converge to innovate learning organizations.  The five disciplines are:

  • Systems Thinking.  How are systems interrelated?  Instead of focusing on isolated parts of the system and why our problems don’t get solved, systems thinking tools try to make patterns clearer and how to change them effectively.
  • Personal Mastery is where individuals are committed to their own lifelong learning.  It is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision.  It helps us focus our energies, develop patience and see reality objectively.
  • Mental Models are deeply ingrained assumptions or generalizations that influence how we understand the world and how we take action. In our corporate world.  Our mental models shape what we do, or not do in different management settings.
  • Building a Shared Vision.  A shared vision is a picture of the future we seek to create.  When the vision is truly shared employees excel and learn because they want to and that fosters genuine commitment rather than compliance.
  • Team Learning.  We all enjoy when our favorite sports team executes a particular play well and scores.  We know that teams practice and learn all the time and so can our business teams.  When teams are truly learning, not only are they producing extraordinary results but the individual members are growing more rapidly than would have occurred otherwise.

To practice these disciplines is a lifelong journey.  The more you learn, the more aware you become of your ignorance.  Organizations that strive to be excellent are always in the state of learning and practicing the disciplines and becoming either better or worse.

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