Re: Intro LO1102 -- Fred Nickols

James W. Hunt (
Mon, 08 May 1995 08:26:00 -0500

Replying to LO1094 --

>My name is Fred Nickols and I have a long-standing interest in learning.
> Presently, I am deeply involved in an organization-wide self-renewal
>effort, a portion of which aims at creating a learning organization. I am
>acquainted with Peter Senge's work as well as that of Chris Argyris,
>Donald Schon, John Dewey and Herbert Spencer. I have a broad systems
>background (hard and soft), as well as considerable experience in the
>areas of training, management, consulting, performance, productivity, and
>process improvement.
> I am frankly skeptical of notions that smack of anthropomorphizing but I
>also recognize the value of shorthand modes of speech and writing so I'm
>not as crotchety on this score as I used to be. I am especially
>interested in ways and means of embedding learning requirements in an
>organization's structure and processes so that an organization's members
>have both the opportunity and the requirement to keep their knowledge base
>current and relevant. I will no doubt "lurk" for a while, monitoring the
>message traffic to see if there is value here for me and how best I might
>contribute in return.

I believe that your answer lies in the structure of the formal and
informal reward system in the organaization coupled with whether the
person sees their work as an "end" or a "means" to an end. Especially
informal reward systems can have a powerful influence on how people look
at the need to be continuously learning. People are more likely to see
their work as an end if they are investors or owners of the work design,
that why getting them involved is so important. There is a certain
percentage that will never see the need because their greater fulfillment
needs are met outside the organization.

In so many places we work we see organizations change their rhetoric and
seem to be saying all the right things about becoming a learning
organization, but when you look at their reward structure it reinforces
what they have been doing for the last 50 years. Its a dual message and
one that doesn't play very well with most people so rather than trying to
figure our which one is right we have learned that"given the option of
listening to your rhetoric or following the reward system, people will
follow the reward system every time." Hope this is helpful.