Reflections on Creating Learning Organizations

Your Knowledge is Your Virtue
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We are often not that aware of the impact of such assumptions etc.

The discipline of mental models starts with turning the mirror inward; learning to unearth our internal pictures of the world, to bring them to the surface and hold them rigorously to scrutiny. Senge 9. If organizations are to develop a capacity to work with mental models then it will be necessary for people to learn new skills and develop new orientations, and for their to be institutional changes that foster such change. Moving the organization in the right direction entails working to transcend the sorts of internal politics and game playing that dominate traditional organizations.

In other words it means fostering openness Senge It also involves seeking to distribute business responsibly far more widely while retaining coordination and control.

Learning organizations are localized organizations ibid. Building shared vision. Such a vision has the power to be uplifting — and to encourage experimentation and innovation. In mastering this discipline, leaders learn the counter-productiveness of trying to dictate a vision, no matter how heartfelt. Visions spread because of a reinforcing process.

Increased clarity, enthusiasm and commitment rub off on others in the organization. Where organizations can transcend linear and grasp system thinking, there is the possibility of bringing vision to fruition. Team learning. It builds on personal mastery and shared vision — but these are not enough. People need to be able to act together. When teams learn together, Peter Senge suggests, not only can there be good results for the organization, members will grow more rapidly than could have occurred otherwise.

To the Greeks dia-logos meant a free-flowing if meaning through a group, allowing the group to discover insights not attainable individually…. When dialogue is joined with systems thinking, Senge argues, there is the possibility of creating a language more suited for dealing with complexity, and of focusing on deep-seated structural issues and forces rather than being diverted by questions of personality and leadership style.

Indeed, such is the emphasis on dialogue in his work that it could almost be put alongside systems thinking as a central feature of his approach. Peter Senge argues that learning organizations require a new view of leadership. He sees the traditional view of leaders as special people who set the direction, make key decisions and energize the troops as deriving from a deeply individualistic and non-systemic worldview In a learning organization, leaders are designers, stewards and teachers.

They are responsible for building organizations were people continually expand their capabilities to understand complexity, clarify vision, and improve shared mental models — that is they are responsible for learning…. Many of the qualities that Peter Senge discusses with regard to leading the learning organization can be found in the shared leadership model discussed elsewhere on these pages. For example, what Senge approaches as inspiration, can be approached as animation.

Here we will look at the three aspects of leadership that he identifies — and link his discussion with some other writers on leadership. Leader as designer.

ISBN 13: 9781883823030

The functions of design are rarely visible, Peter Senge argues, yet no one has a more sweeping influence than the designer Integrating the five component technologies is fundamental. However, the first task entails designing the governing ideas — the purpose, vision and core values by which people should live. Other disciplines also need to be attended to, but just how they are to be approached is dependent upon the situation faced.

Leader as steward. While the notion of leader as steward is, perhaps, most commonly associated with writers such as Peter Block , Peter Senge has some interesting insights on this strand. One of the important things to grasp here is that stewardship involves a commitment to, and responsibility for the vision, but it does not mean that the leader owns it.

It is not their possession. Leaders learn to see their vision as part of something larger.

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As we all know, to stay ahead of competitors, companies must constantly enhance the way they do business. Van Maurik, J. There is not a consideration of questions of social justice, democracy and exclusion. The how is left to subordinate leaders and staff members who are closer to the action and can adjust specific actions as the situation unfolds. Schultz, J. Validity of tool can be acquire by structure equation modelling which embodies the validly of tool the DLOQ construct Yang, Watkins et al. Looks to bring back ethical questions to the centre of debates around leadership, and turns to the leader as educator.

Telling the story in this way allows others to be involved and to help develop a vision that is both individual and shared. Leader as teacher. By and large most managers and leaders tend to focus on the first two of these levels and under their influence organizations do likewise. By attending to purpose, leaders can cultivate an understanding of what the organization and its members are seeking to become.

One of the issues here is that leaders often have strengths in one or two of the areas but are unable, for example, to develop systemic understanding. It is about fostering learning, for everyone. Such leaders help people throughout the organization develop systemic understandings. Accepting this responsibility is the antidote to one of the most common downfalls of otherwise gifted teachers — losing their commitment to the truth.

Leaders have to create and manage creative tension — especially around the gap between vision and reality. Mastery of such tension allows for a fundamental shift. It enables the leader to see the truth in changing situations. Peter Senge writes for practicing and aspiring managers and leaders. Peter Senge, while making use of individual case studies, tends to the latter orientation.

The most appropriate question in respect of this contribution would seem to be whether it fosters praxis — informed, committed action on the part of those it is aimed at?

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This is an especially pertinent question as Peter Senge looks to promote a more holistic vision of organizations and the lives of people within them. Here we focus on three aspects.

ID and Other Reflections

We start with the organization. Organizational imperatives. Here the case against Peter Senge is fairly simple. We can find very few organizations that come close to the combination of characteristics that he identifies with the learning organization. Within a capitalist system his vision of companies and organizations turning wholehearted to the cultivation of the learning of their members can only come into fruition in a limited number of instances.

5 Key Traits ALL Learning Organizations Share

While those in charge of organizations will usually look in some way to the long-term growth and sustainability of their enterprise, they may not focus on developing the human resources that the organization houses. The focus may well be on enhancing brand recognition and status Klein ; developing intellectual capital and knowledge Leadbeater ; delivering product innovation; and ensuring that production and distribution costs are kept down.

Demonstrate that you value learning

Such conditions are hardly conducive to building the sort of organization that Peter Senge proposes. Here the case against Senge is that within capitalist organizations, where the bottom line is profit, a fundamental concern with the learning and development of employees and associates is simply too idealistic. The need to focus on knowledge generation within an increasingly globalized economy does bring us back in some important respects to the people who have to create intellectual capital.

Productivity and competitiveness are, by and large, a function of knowledge generation and information processing: firms and territories are organized in networks of production, management and distribution; the core economic activities are global — that is they have the capacity to work as a unit in real time, or chosen time, on a planetary scale.

Castells A failure to attend to the learning of groups and individuals in the organization spells disaster in this context. As Leadbeater 70 has argued, companies need to invest not just in new machinery to make production more efficient, but in the flow of know-how that will sustain their business. Organizations need to be good at knowledge generation, appropriation and exploitation. This process is not that easy:. Knowledge that is visible tends to be explicit, teachable, independent, detachable, it also easy for competitors to imitate.

Knowledge that is intangible, tacit, less teachable, less observable, is more complex but more difficult to detach from the person who created it or the context in which it is embedded. Knowledge carried by an individual only realizes its commercial potential when it is replicated by an organization and becomes organizational knowledge.

The sort of know-how that Leadbeater is talking about here cannot be simply transmitted. It has to be engaged with, talking about and embedded in organizational structures and strategies. A question of sophistication and disposition. The issue here is that the people to whom it is addressed do not have the disposition or theoretical tools to follow it through. As we saw a discipline is a series of principles and practices that we study, master and integrate into our lives.

In other words, the approach entails significant effort on the part of the practitioner. It also entails developing quite complicated mental models, and being able to apply and adapt these to different situations — often on the hoof. Classically, the approach involves a shift from product to process and back again. The question then becomes whether many people in organizations can handle this.

All this has a direct parallel within formal education. One of the reasons that product approaches to curriculum as exemplified in the concern for SATs tests, examination performance and school attendance have assumed such a dominance is that alternative process approaches are much more difficult to do well. They may be superior — but many teachers lack the sophistication to carry them forward. There are also psychological and social barriers.