Sunday, 16 November 2008

If entrepreneurial organisations need to be learning organizations (and they do)… WHAT DO LEARNING ORGANIZATIONS LOOK LIKE?

‘Management encourages a culture of exploration and risk taking and seeks ways to expose staff to new ideas and perspectives’; ‘A market action oriented philosophy drives company leaders and staff and there is a shared belief that he only reason a company has to exist is to serve a customer’; ‘They hire for all levels from outside the organisation and will often use outside consultants to bring a new perspective’; ‘Management actively promote job rotation and project teams to develop individuals and encourage active networking and collaboration with outsiders’; ‘They allow mistakes as part of learning (without recrimination) and they often openly reward healthy rule breaking and policy defiance’; ‘Individual’s knowledge sharing is promoted and rewarded and free access to information is provided across all levels’.

KEY ISSUE: Some years ago (when I was an ‘aussie’ financier), I was sent, to a five-week, live-in, management-training programme. On my return to work I had gained some insights on how to improve my area of responsibility. When I attempted to implement the changes the boss’s reaction was, ‘the way we are doing things now is just fine, we all feel like that after ‘the course’, you’ll get over it in a few weeks, just get on with the job’.

Many equate training people with being a learning organisation. Training people is imperative however the new skills and knowledge gained from the training must lead to a change in how the organisation operates. A change in the organization’s behaviour and implementation of new ways of doing things based on what has been learned (and shared) is the only true sign that you really are a learning organization.


*Adapted in part from Mitch McCrimmon’s book ‘Unleash the Entrepreneur Within’

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