Before delving into the field of organizational behavior change, however, let us first define a learning organization. Learning organizations are those who are able to integrate the five disciplines as follows:
- Personal mastery: personal mastery is the ability to continually clarifying and deepening personal vision, focusing energy, developing patience and seeing reality objectively.
- Mental Models: Mental models are deeply ingrained assumptions or generalizations that influence how we understand the world and how we take action. Working with mental models involve the assumption of the surface and examine the organization, in order to understand the system better organization and to develop a more effective solution.
- Building shared vision: This discipline requires the building and took pictures with the future and develop the capacity to fulfill that vision.
- The team learned : Team learning involves dialogue and processes involved in thinking and learning together.
- Systems thinking: Systems thinking, what Senge called the discipline "fifth," is the cornerstone of the learning organization that bind four other disciplines together. In short, systems thinking is the study of structure and behavior of the system. It focuses on the linkage system of organization, see the whole rather than individual parts.
Learning organization characteristics are as follows:
- An organizational vision is created through input from all key areas and is supported by all employees, rather than mandates from on high.
- The organization focuses on the analysis of patterns over time rather than taking photos.
- In on-going communication, employees balance advocacy with inquiry, that is, they argue for the viewpoint of them as much as they invite others to question this perspective and as much as they asked about the viewpoint of others.
- When the results of an unwanted place, a learning organization focused on efforts to understand how to structure a system that allows the results rather than blaming an individual or group of individuals.
- Learning organization forward, always focused on the desired future they want to create, than look back at what went wrong and try to fix it.
- Learning organizations encourage employees to stretch and try new ideas.
So what does it take to become a learning organization? There is no easy recipe, and the process is often messy. Maybe start with the organization to create a shared vision that all parts have a hand in shaping. Or an organization will start on a team level, helping the team develop the skills of a true dialogue that leads to team learning. Another option might be to test the underlying assumptions about how to get the job done which might impede progress. ("But we always do like that")! In short, the process is as individual as the organization. There is no right or wrong way, and no end. This is the essence of continuous learning, and it becomes part of organizational culture.
Is your organization a learning organization? Here are some key questions to ask:
- Does your organization take time for reflection?
- Does your organization need time to explore all possible options rather than settling in the first solution that seems to work?
- Does your organization recognize behavior patterns that create less than desirable results?
- Does your organization regularly examine and question the assumptions about how to get the job done?
- Does your organization engage in a dialogue that builds shared meanings?
- Does your organization to explore the nature of conflict, not suppress it?
- Is your organization a safe, open, and believe?
- Does your organization encourage risk taking and see failures as opportunities to learn?
If you can answer "yes" to the majority of these questions, then you are well on your way to become a learning organization. My next article will be the first of five devoted to each of the five disciplines.