Intro -- Julie Beedon LO2720

Julie Beedon (
Sun, 10 Sep 1995 14:46:44

I was for 6 years Regional Quality Co-ordinator with the West
Midlands Employment Service (A UK Government Agency which pays
benefits to the unemployed and helps to find them work). We were
engaged in a Deming based transformation which led us into the
field of learning organisations. We discovered Senge and The Fifth
Discipline in 1993 when working on some Real Time Strategic Change
with Robert Jacobs (see the book of that name by Robert W Jacobs
1994 Berrett Koehler). Since then we have been learning about
ourselves and the disciplines of learning in a multitude of ways. I
left the ES in March of this year when myself and 3 colleagues
decided we wanted to 'make a difference in the World' by working with
more organisations - some of which we charge for and some we don't.

It sometimes seems to me that the concept of a learning organisation
is easier to describe than to achieve and the the individual
defensive routines and barriers to learning are magnified immensly
inside organisations. I have found the principles and processes
within Real Time useful in developing the capacity for dialogue and
exploration of assumptions. I have also been learning about future
search and finding those processes useful. Has anybody else found
any things which help??

One interesting thing which emerged when we were progressing our
quality transformation in the ES was that as we reduced fear and
blame there seemed to be an interesting growth in the demand for
new learning experiences which translated itself into huge demand
for resources for learning. Anybody else noticed this?

I am currently starting to work with the national Missioner for
the Church of England - a lot of people have been reading Senge and
asking the question Is the Church of England a Learning
Organisation? (I have a copy of an interesting paper by Martin
Seeley who is the national continuing ministerial education
officer on that question.) We are planning a conference for 80 or
so facilitator types in the CofE next march to look at learning
organisations and ask oursleves if this is a way we can develop
new ways of being church. Anyone with any tips and thoughts about
this project?

I sometimes worry that 'learning organisation' will become the
next hyped thing which people will dabble with and then say does
not work - why is it that we try new things for a few months/years
and then move on to another fix? I am curious to know if anyone
has studied this and seen any systemic patterns?

I find the systems thinking part of the disciplines to be
difficult to engage people with - particularly working at looking at
patterns etc in their own experience - any good processes for this?

 Julie Beedon
 VISTA Associates   (44) 121 505 7500