Learning Organization

Learning Organization

“A Learning Organization is one in which people at all levels, individually and collectively, are continually increasing their capacity to produce results they really care about”-Peter Senge

It is a fact that learning is a continuous process. What we learn today will be obsolete tomorrow and what we learn tomorrow will be obsolete the very next day and this cycle continues. Therefore, we must learn and explore new things every day to keep us up-to-date. Likewise, the same is true in the case of organization. In organizations, what is practiced today, the set of rules, the technologies being used and the human resource will also be obsolete in due course of time. Organizations, therefore, must focus to build the learning environment so that the employees can learn new things every day and come up with creative and innovative ideas to lead organization through the ultimate success.

With the ever-rising competition and changes, the organizations have started to feel the need of continuous transformation to cope with them. Also, the ability to learn faster than your competitors is the only lasting competitive advantage for the organization [1]. As a result of the felt need, Peter Senge developed the concept of Learning Organization (Senge, 1994). He once stated in an interview, that a learning organization is a group of people working together to collectively enhance their capabilities to create results they really care about and popularized the concept of the learning organization through his book “The Fifth Discipline”. In the book, he proposed the following five disciplines [2]:

  1. Systems thinking: Organizations are a system of interrelationships. To become more successful we need to analyze these relationships and find the problems in them. This will allow an organization to eliminate the obstacles to learning.
  2. Personal mastery: An individual holds great importance in a learning organization. Personal development holds as much importance as commitment and work for the organization. Employees need to grow and work on their own goals.
  3. Mental Models: This is the company culture and the diverse theories and mindsets that serve as a framework for the functioning of the organization. Learning organizations look for how these affect organizational development.
  4. Shared Vision: A learning organization’s employees all share a common vision. Personal goals must be in sync with the goals and vision of the organization.
  5. Team Learning: Team learning states the importance of dialogue and group discussion. For a team to learn, they must be in sync and reach agreement.

A learning organization is the term given to a company that facilitates the learning of its members and continuously transforms itself [3]. Learning organizations develop as a result of the pressures facing modern organizations and enable them to remain competitive in the business environment [4].

Organizations which have transformed themselves into learning organization motivates employees to come-up with new ideas, put their voices in organizational matters and above all encourage them to participate in decision-making process. Learning organization does not occur by itself nor can any organization change them into learning organization as and when they want. Learning organization, to occur, the employees should be psychologically safe [4]. When the employees are psychologically safe, they are not afraid to put forward their ideas, knowledge and utmost they are not afraid to fail. This is how they learn and better themselves every time.

Learning is essential in today’s world but learning quickly is very essential. It is not only important for an individual but also equally important from the organizational perspectives. Therefore, to create the learning organization, the psychological safety of the employees must be guaranteed. Only the organization, which can continuously transforms and adapt to the change can achieve the desired success.

References:

  1. Aggestam, L.2006.Learning Organization or Knowledge Management: which came first, the chicken or the egg? 35, No. 3A.
  2. Fulmer, Robert M., Keys, J. Bernard. (1998). A Conversation with Peter Senge: new developments in organizational learning. Organizational Dynamics, 33-42.
  3. (2005). Learning Organization. A to Z of Management Concepts & Models., pp. 190–191.
  4. Edmondson, Amy C. The Competitive Imperative of Learning. Harvard Business Review. July-August 2008., pp. 65.
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