I'm at once repelled and intrigued by the question posed: how does one
sell probably unreceptive organizations concepts, tools, and practices
(the culture) of the learning organization?
My first response was, "When you are ready to learn, your teacher
However useful that admonition may or may not be, the fact remains that
(a) if we are visionary and committed and (b) many organizations are so
entrenched that they cannot see the need, then we need to be proactive.
The need for proactivity, however, unfortunately generates for me
traditional, typical responses: shocking the system (highlighting the gap
between the ideal and the current) or even introducing a positive gap,
making things seem so positive and possible that the organization is drawn
Having taught "The Learning Organization" and having served as a
consultant employing concepts and principles of the LO to organizations,
I've gained a deeper appreciation for the importance of BECOMING a
learning organization and of the difficulty in getting there, not to
mention sustaining it. I seldom use the terms any more because people get
so caught up in the language and what it means. As we've seen here on
this list, LO means something different to everyone, and we like to think
we know what's going on!
Still, discussing this question would be productive and I'd like to see
individuals' reactions and recommendations. On short cue, the reasonable
way to proceed is to first increase awareness and sensitivity to the need
for learning at the organizational and institutional level. One way to do
this is through the use of Action Learning teams (call them something
else, if that will make them more acceptable). Giving groups the
opportunity, legitimacy, and responsibility to study ways of doing
business, or lessons learned from successes and failures, or ways to
modify and incorporate best practices research, as examples, and the
authority to do something with the knowledge and skill acquired in the
process, fosters organizational AND individual learning, AND creates a
culture wherein learning is sought and rewarded.
Solving problems is fun, as must of us know. Few people in organizations
have the opportunity to solve real problems or go unrecognized when they
do. With problem solving vested in the hands (and minds) of a few,
decisions and resolutions are likely to be skewed over time. And, even if
they are good, systemic, and forward-thinking problem solvers, the
resource is lost to the organization when they depart. There are good and
rewarding reasons to involve more organizational members in problem
solving and decision making exceeding overused (and underemployed) notions
like empowerment or participation.
The learning organization by any other name is still a learning
organization; is the concept is redundant as some have suggested, then
long live redundancy!
"Hays, Joe" <HAYS@volpe1.dot.gov>
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <email@example.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>