Why Apply Organizational Learning in Organizations?

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Why Apply Organizational Learning in Organizations?
sujan, Lecturer, Member
Organizational learning is a social process, involving interactions among many individuals leading to well-informed decision making.
An organization must learn so that it can adapt to a changing environment.
Historically, the life-cycle of organizations typically spanned stable environments between major socio-economic changes.
More recently this changed and many Fortune 500 companies of two decades ago no longer exist.
Given the ever-accelerating rate of global-scale change, learning and adaptation become more critical for the organization's relevance, success and ultimately survival.

That's why it's so important that creating, adapting and sharing ideas must all be rewarded.
This processes of knowledge or skill sharing must supersede the control processes with respect to employees, empowering them.

Align Organizational Learning with Competences
Ceferino Dulay, Jr., Philippines, Member
Organizational learning and development needs to be aligned with organizational direction to maximize its benefits, not only to the organization but also to the individual.
For example, in strategic planning, the core competence of the organization is identified. From this, specific competencies such as areas and levels of expertise that support this core competence can be identified.
This then can be the basis for competency evaluation and development of people which is supported by training in the identified areas and levels (a ladder can be designed).
I have worked with SMEs to develop training courses (based on their particular area of expertise) and for this purpose, conducted a technical trainers training since the technical areas are usually limited to the organization. Trainings for behavioral and management areas can be sourced from outside the organization.
In this way, training curricula for different areas are developed covering technical, behavioral and managerial.

Organizational Agility and Organizational Learning are both Core Competences
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
Thanks Sujan for starting this important topic.
No doubt organizations need to become more flexible/agile. There are at least 3 forms of organizational agility: operational, strategic and portfolio agility. Each one of them can be regarded as a core competence and involves advanced organizational learning.

Over the last 100,000 years the human species developed from being able to use gestures, to talking, to writing, to printing (books), to the internet, to mobile communicating. The pace is accelerating, but fundamentally all of these breakthroughs merely enabled us - and forced us - to improve our communication and learning.

My experience as a strategy consultant taught me that a lack of understanding of this change into the knowledge era plus our tendency towards status quo bias is a frequent, dangerous combination in boardrooms. Awareness, buy-in and personal support of the top level is however a must! The required organizational changes are considerable and the available time to implement them are getting shorter all the time...

On the positive side, if leaders or key innovators within an organization are able to envision new, intelligent ways of capturing and sharing knowledge and arranging organizational learning to enable their firm to serve its customers better, that also represents a strategic capability. Such leaders and innovators deserve to be rewarded for the crucial contributions they are making.

The Value of Organisational Learning
Thabo Johnson, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
Organisational Learning adds value when guided by the external and internal situational characteristics of the organisation.
Pearce and Robinson (2009:10) Greenley (1986:101-109) posit that organisational knowledge enhances its ability to derive organisational success through an understanding of the external organisational environment made up of global economic changes, globalisation, the ascendance of corporate government practice, and the need to inculcate emerging market influence in corporate decision making.
The advantages presented through development of organisational knowledge include:
- Promotion of informed planning
- Facilitates group interaction on development of alternatives
- Removal of resistance to change
- Whilst realising a growth in bottom line earnings.
This is why internal organisational knowledge presents a road map to achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.

Value from Organizational Learning Approaches
francisslobo, Professor, India, Member
While I agree to all, for any approach towards organizational learning it's clear that nothing can happen without the support of the management.
The managerial staff should be supported and trained towards its approach in order to motivate the organization down the line to create an environment of sharing and caring towards its excellence and sustainability in the long run.
Today, for organizations to thrive, a number of initiatives need to be taken from time to time as we are definitely in the most competitive world. Organisational learning will always be one of the most important initiatives that we need to embark on.
All should result in value creation for the organization as well said by @Thabo Johnson.

Organizational Learning and Learning Organizations are Crucial but are Hard to Create
Organisational learning develops learning organizations. And learning organizations normally evolve strategically and improve step by step to become better with time. As narrated by the @Jaap de Jonge the communication evolution from signs, through writing, printing and now electronic transmission was followed systematically and step by step by the development of self learning and work culture changes in both individuals in organizations and then the entire team in the organization.
It's now all about people and the changing the organization culture. Changing an entire organization into a learning organization needs strategic support and must be driven by senior management to develop people to embrace continual improvement and innovation as a culture.

Organisational Learning (OL) Must Start at the Top
Ian Graham, Consultant, United Kingdom, Member
Great topic Sujan. We all agree that there is a serious need to change management thinking towards OL. There have been many models of OL that overall are hard to implement.
I don't think we are targeting the right level; top of the tree is where the long term and financial decisions are made. It is there that the directors need to evolve their strategic plans to include OL as a de facto standard that involves everyone in the organisation.
If the policy of the organisation is to achieve the company goals via OL, this allows for the advantages of Thabo Johnson's earlier mention of OL values. I feel OL is not just about training; it is about changing the paradigm of many established organisations into strategically flexible developmental businesses that can react and adapt far better to today's rapid global changes.
The very top level is the area where OL should start and management will then have to accommodate OL within their work methodologies to achieve this.

Organizational Learning Concepts
Juan Manuel Ugarte, Professor, Mexico, Member
Since approximately three decades ago, several OL concepts have been deeply studied and developed in a consistent way, including:
- The "learning by doing" approach that has had an important impact and positive results in every company.
- The "small is beautiful" approach, another type of learning process within organizations. Mainly strengthening technological capabilities was achieved.
- The recent "empowerment" approach means new ways to transfer some core knowledge and capabilities to make a decision process more efficient and effective.
In all cases at least three common ingredients are indispensable to a successful organizational learning process:
1. Contextual Analysis
2. Critical Thinking, and, maybe the most important one,
3. Common Language.

Why and How Organizational Learning Helps the Employees and the Organization
Rajesh Sharma, Professor, Nepal, Member
OL is also a very important tool of organizational change. It helps employees learn new changes and developments in the competitive environment. The most successful strategies of competitors may also be adopted...
Employees will welcome and understand the needs for change and will then themselves become change agents.

Organisation Learning is Focus Area
Renee Isaacs, HR Consultant, South Africa, Member
Organisational learning in any organisation should be a focus area if it would like to stay competitive in the global village.

Learning Organizations Allow Organization to Adapt and Evolve
Stefania Di Cristofalo, Coach, Italy, Member
A Learning organization is a social system whose evolution is guaranteed by adaptive processes and self-organization policy. Managers should be helped to overcome the fear to deal with the uncertainty shifting from delegation to engagement.
Sharing knowledge is a place where new ideas emerge. As this ideas are the results of a co-creation process lived by a group of person, they integrate all the dimensions of human diversity and they impact on all organizational dimensions.

Many representatives of executive boards and middle management are not prepared to face a working context lived as something producing unpredictable slippery results. Organizational structures are in any case necessary and ownership of supply chain high level processes is needed to define the boundary of the organizational system.
All systems in nature have a boundary (think to human body) and an internal organization that guarantees cohesion (think to organs each with a specific function) and governance mechanisms for exchanges among organs whose clock and productivity are continuously adapted according to internal state and according to external environment.
Social systems work in the same way, they need the freedom to adapt as survival enabling factor too.

Managers should consider that the evolution capability and the resilience capability of any organizational system are governed by structural natural laws such as time and exchange. Managers set the organization boundary through structure and functions according to the mission which represents the organization aggregation purpose. Exchange contents and modality depend on how time and space are managed, it can empower or it can disable organization champions to contribute to the mission according to natural internal adaptation forces.

Adaptive processes allow people to activate all the necessary personal best resources to generate the value required by the mission. In other words adaptive processes are empowering. To move an organization to a Learning Organization means to define self-organization policy for time and exchange. Managers should be helped to overcome their fear of uncertainty (see Edgar Morin, Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future) shifting from a delegation leadership style based on hard coded roles and responsabilities to an engagement leadership style based upon a definition of roles whose boundary can change over time according to context variability.

Introduction of Organisational Learning (OL) Must Happen from a Strategic Standpoint
Lisk, Student (University), Barbados, Member
@Ian Graham: You are so correct Ian. Introduction of OL from the strategic standpoint gives any change within the organisation a level of credibility and will encourage buy-in from middle management and operational staff. But it must be communicated downwards, otherwise nothing will happen and the changes will be stagnated.

Organizational Learning from Mistakes
Antonio J. Garcia, Spain, Member
Totally agree with previous contributions, but would emphasize learning as a basic aspect, eliminating fear of failure. A model of learning and evolution of organizations going through learning from mistakes.

Organisational Learning Breeds Collective Intelligence
Ian Graham, Consultant, United Kingdom, Member
@Stefania Di Cristofalo & Lisk: Taking a couple of very good points from Stefania's 'Collective Intelligence (CI)' and Lisk's 'Credibility ' I would suggest that OL, when properly and passively inculcated with normal work practices, breeds CI no matter what type of organisation is involved. The level of credibility is outstandingly important in order to achieve whole workforce acceptance. However I do slightly disagree with Lisk on the communication only being downward; in the case of OL, communication should be cyclical for the changes to be agreed and constantly updated.
Wouldn't it be a breath of fresh air to hear of any organisations who actually endorse OL and have had successful results with it.

Organisational Learning (OL) Requires Top Management Commitment
Lisk, Student (University), Barbados, Member
@Ian Graham: Yes, you are correct that communication must be in both directions. My point was to say that if top level managers do not communicate with their subordinates their view on organzational learning, then it is to no end.
But indeed the organisational learning and the environment that would be conducive to such can only happen if feedback from operational staff is also encouraged.
This holistic approach to communication can only benefit the organisation in the long term.

Organisational Learning Seen as Non-productive
Ian Graham, Consultant, United Kingdom, Member
@Lisk: Good point Lisk, You are obviously aware of the reluctance, whatever the reasons, of top level management to communicate effectively with the workforce.
I am of the belief that OL and learning experience are seen as non-productive; especially by organisations who choose the standard models of business management to assure the shareholders. They are possibly fearful of change that may or may not prove positive results. This is why I am interested to know if there are organisations out there who actively promote and trust OL to improve their business.
This kind of 'resistance to change'-mentality is inevitable, and all human beings are prone to it, so itís the first and most severe barrier to overcome. This is where OL and the personnel who are actively involved with it must be able to win them over and make them understand that it is for their benefit, and that it's not detrimental that changes and new ideas are being brought in. Simple task! LOL.

Bottom-up Organizational Learning is also Possible
Birmingham, Management Consultant, United States, Member
Like an organism, organizational learning can take place in small cells or larger systems. While much harder to make organizations change from the bottom up, it is still possible.
An understanding of creating systems of inquiry and opportunities for reflection on what is working and what is not is a great start for empowered individuals to move forward and create a movement.

Organizational Culture and Organizational Learning are Correlated
Gandhi Heryanto, Management Consultant, Indonesia, Premium Member
To be an organizational learning entity, the company requires a culture that enables companies in terms of strategic OL, as stated by @Jaap de Jonge.
The concept of an Organizational Learning Culture (OLC) is defined as a set of norms and values about the functioning of an organization. These norms and values should support a systematic, in-depth approach aimed at achieving higher-level organizational learning.
The elements of an organizational learning process are information acquisition, information interpretation, and behavioral and cognitive changes.

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Krishna Mandadi Venkata

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