Re: The Learning Organization Structure

Stephen Wehrenberg (
Tue, 15 Nov 1994 20:39:11 -0500 (EST)

Mike reminds me of something I have been working on for some time. I was
involved in making a substantial policy change in the Coast Guard, but
found that I was up against a formidable wall of "policies on paper."
Seems that, with turnover of management being what it is, as new players
entered the game, they made policy changes/adjustments, but never
bothered to "erase" the old policies.

So I face what might be called an "accretion of policy" problem ... just
ferreting out all the arcane references to prior policies might take
months! I have had to form a group to do just that ... search all the
documents we can find for outdated references to past policies related to
the issues we are working. Ugh. Maybe that constitutes "unlearning" in
the organizational sense ... the literal erasing of organizational


Stephen Wehrenberg, Ph.D.
"Life is a jam session."

On Tue, 15 Nov 1994, Mike Gurstein wrote:

> I think to carry the analogy perhaps further than it should go, the
> previous experiences of organizations are embedded, like habits in their
> rules and procedures, job descriptions, forms. Change atthe concrete
> level requires "doing something" about these--discarding them,
> re-engineering them--certainly becoming sufficiently conscious of them
> that they are modified to in such a way as to support the changed
> approaches which are being pursued. Without dealing with these "nitty
> gritties" "learning" in an organization is just so much motivational
> rhetoric. Mikeg
> On Tue, 15 Nov 1994, Jim Foote wrote:
> > Good comment. I connot comprehend how one can unlearn, rather we
> > learn new things and develop new perspectives on previous learned
> > concepts, ideas, etc. I suspect the focus on "unlearning" relates
> > to blocks and impediments to 'new' learning. It seems more
> > productive to me to focus on the future and the learning this
> > implies instead of looking backward.
> >