Re: Intro -- Julie Beedon LO2750
Mon, 11 Sep 1995 21:39:08 -0400

Hi Julie,

In LO2720, you wrote,

>It sometimes seems to me that the concept of a learning organisation is
easier to describe than to achieve and 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??<

Yes, working to personally switch from a knower to a learner. If you have
not questioned yourself where you are at on this continuum, it might help
to do close personal examination. These trite sounding words have been the
most powerful influence on my life (within the business community). First
introduced to this concept by Deming and later reinforced by LO folks, it
is at best a difficult transition for me although the thought is tattooed
on the inside of my eyelids. Working to make this change has made it much
easier to facilitate dialogue, coach personal mastery, etc.

>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?<

Certainly!! I led an effort where the people knew openness and honesty
were in demand. Fear went away. As I've talked about before, this group
improved their productivity 50 per cent in 15 months with only 3 per cent
addition to the capital base. The interesting point of this is that they
even created their own opportunities for learning and creating.

>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?<

Faddish management is well-paid and Wall Street makes high commissions on
short sighted returns.

>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?<

Just use it with groups without naming it. I've had some success with
causal loops, systems level analysis, and dialogue as I facilitate groups
and simply do it with them. I am always prepared to set the scene (do spur
of the moment training) for using the method if I should be asked what I
am doing. I do not announce it like - "Let me teach you how to do systems
thinking . We will start with causal loop diagrams". Instead, as they are
talking I start drawing causal loops and lead them through structural

Done it 3 times with causal loops, 6 times on double loop learning (on
processes), maybe 11-12 times with dialogue. In a couple of cases, the
team learned (according to them) new ways of conducting conversations. In
the special case of Dialogue, I have developed a chatter/patter describing
why the group is assembled (for learning) and how they might help make
that happen. Causal loop and systems level analysis I just do.

This on the spot usage has worked within the particular meeting. Since
our teams are in continuous change of membership due to downsizing and I
only work with teams a few times, the sustainability is probably suspect.
If you are working with a team over a long period of time, you might try
introducing the concept through usage and then later simply discuss what
was going on.

Dave Buffenbarger
Organizational Improvement Coach
Dow Chemical Company
(517) 638-7080