Re: Learning in the Org Environment LO1408

Tobin Quereau (
Sun, 28 May 1995 12:01:14 -0500 (CDT)

Replying to LO1390 --

On 26 May 1995, Barry Mallis wrote:

> Toward the end of your posting, you talk about "implications for personal
> AND (caps mine) organizational learning".
> These words made me think about the gulf that exists between personal
> learning, such as it is, and the learning of organization as a vital,
> albeit chameleon-like entity. While progress in thought and action
> regarding personal learning is everywhere apparent, many attempts to
> transfer personal learning (as in school learning, book learning, class
> learning, what-have-you) to the organization environment fall short. I
> wonder if it's not because the dynamics of a working group is in many ways
> distinct from the dynamics of a relatively traditional academic learning
> situation.

Though I love "learning", Barry, I am not a fan of the traditional
academic learning situation"--from the elementary to the graduate level--
so your questions are very relevent to my purposes in facilitating
learning. I don't know that the traditional model is a very effective one
for many purposes when we are interested in personal or organizational
learning. There are those who can and do learn in that setting. I think
that is great. I am concerned, however, at how many people are _turned
off_ to learning as a result of that model. My seven years as a pre-school
teacher were the best training ground for me in understanding the process
(and rewards!) of learning, and if we could maintain that level of
learning beyond first grade, we would be in much better shape.

> Is case study work in business school a world apart from case study work
> by active factory managers? Does physical and mental proximity to
> exchange of capital for goods and services affect the learning model we
> have all developed in school, so that the model lacks the desired
> efficacy?

Rather than the proximity to the exhange of capital for goods and
services, I would guess it has more to do with what we are looking and
asking for in the two settings. When you consider the difference in the
"expected return" from academic and business or organizational settings, I
would think that it becomes more obvious. In business and organizations
what is demanded is performance, results, concrete outcomes.

Unfortunately, as John Warfield and others have pointed out, that can
drive out the willingness to explore in depth what is "really" going on
for fear of falling behind and "wasting time". In academic settings, we
usually are operating in far more abstract and intellectual realms. An
excellent paper, exam, or article is a far cry from a successful sale, a
product delivered, or a functional office of "real" people. We may do
"research", but the very richness and complexity of the world is excluded
on purpose in order to "clarify results" and avoid "contamination by
unconsidered factors". Our learning becomes more and more about less and
less until the gap between the two "realities" becomes the Grand Canyon
in practice.

> Thanks for provoking these questions.

I choose to work in the field of education, so please don't take my
comments as hostile or judgemental. I just happen to think that we have a
long way to go to "capitalize" on the incredible inherent power of
learning that resides within each of us--whether in academia, on the job,
or in our personal life. I see the dialogue that occurs on this list-serve
and the learning organizational model as one of the most promising
developments to come along in order to shorten (or at least enliven!) that
journey, so thanks for your part in that as well.

Tobin Quereau
Coordinator, Staff and Organizational Learning
Austin Community College
Austin, TX 78752