The Learning Organization Structure

Sun, 13 Nov 94 19:50:58 +1000

There have been a number of comments about what makes an learning

It seems to me that to a considerable extent, learning is a natural human
behaviour. However, there are a number of factors that inhibit it. For instance

1. People's ignorance of the organisation they are in, how it succeeds and how
they can contribute to that success.

2. Fear of asking questions. This may be due to fear of creating antagonisms,
or fear of showing ignorance.

3. Lack of conviction that they can do anything of any consequence.

4. Lack of opportunity to ask questions and formulate suggestions.

5. Lack of time and energy to think past the bare essentials of each day.

I would uspect that if these were addressed, then one would go a long way to
achieving learning. Basically, it is giving people the tools and freedom to
learn. Of course, much of the polemic of learning organisations addresses this
(empowerment, mental models etc) does address this. However, long histories of
fear generating behaviour may be very difficult to overcome.

Unlearning is easier if you have an alternative to go to. It is dangerous
abandon ideas that have guided you in the past when you have no alternative. It
seems to me that people need to feel comfortable and competent in their jobs,
and will resist changes that they see taking that away.

There are also techniques. I have seen a simple method of software development
create an enormous learning environment amongst a distributed group of people
who would normally have had little communication with each other. The task was
structured in such a way that these people could see that they had the power to
develop better ideas, and the incentive to work together. There was no group
therapy, visioning, organisational restructuring or anything like that -
merely a simple task structure which was a little different from normal IT
development. I am sure there are many other techniques that can be used as well.

Gray Southon
Consultant in Health Management Research and Analysis