Organizational transformation -- when done effectively -- involves individual learning. This is one of the reason Executive Coaching has taken the corporate world by storm.
In Learning Organizations we work with employees at all levels to become fully engaged in achieving organizational goals but at the same time they are given the opportunity to enhance their own managerial and leadership abilities. They are encouraged to continuously hone their knowledge and skills and at the same time become cognizant of how their attitudes and behaviors impact others. (View KASH box)
Learning organizations move away from a traditional “quick fix” mentality to the concept of continuous improvement and enduring solutions. This requires an interdisciplinary approach and support from all levels of the organization.
Every company has two organizational structures: The formal one is written on the charts; the other is the everyday relationship of the men and women in the organization.
According to Peter Senge and Chris Argyris and others, there are five core disciplines to building a learning organization:
It is essential to recognize that organizations cannot learn until their members begin to learn. To do this, people need the right kinds of supports in place. Without it the blind spots among those we have assigned to manage others will become more prevalent.
A mental model is one’s ways of looking at the world. In our work we will often see assumptions and beliefs that are flawed. An example might be that winning is always important. Executive Coaching assist managers to see how their mental models can be interfering with personal or organizational success.
A workplace team involves some degree of interdependence in carrying out tasks for the purpose of achieving organizational goals. They usually have complementary skills, are committed to a common purpose, have performance goals, and hold one another accountable. Teams must learn to manage their culture, processes, systems and relationships if they want to be effective.
When an organization has a shared vision, the driving force for change comes from what Senge calls "creative tension." Creative tension is the difference between the shared vision and the current reality. With truly committed members the creative tension will drive the organization toward its goals.
In order to understand the source and the solutions to modern problems, linear and mechanistic thinking must give way to non-linear and organic thinking, more commonly referred to as systems thinking—a way of thinking where the primacy of the whole is acknowledged.
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. 1
All learning organizations share a belief in the ability of people and organizations to change and become more effective, and that change requires open communication, the empowerment of its members, and a culture of collaboration.
An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.
1. Learning Organizations, 2002, by Kai Larsen, Claire McInerney, Corrine Nyquist, Aldo Santos and Donna Silsbee