Intro -- Martin Raff LO2781

Martin Charles Raff (
Wed, 13 Sep 1995 07:00:00

My experience with learning organisation concepts.

I was, until recently, the Regional Director of the West Midlands
Employment Service, a Region of a UK Government Agency providing payment
and job finding help for unemployed people. I led a Deming based
transformation programme involving all the 5000 people we employed in the
Region. We aimed to become a learning organisation. We read Peter Senge
and encouraged managers to change into team leaders, continuously
improving everything, including themselves. I changed too, from a "command
and control" leader in the direction of leading by listening, learning,
encouraging and helping to develop vision and purpose. Other people said I
changed a lot. We acheived a great deal. More people changed than we had
expected. performance rocketed, committment increased markedly and
learning exploded. But still too many people, especially in management,
were not fully committed to the new ways of working.

What I am curious about.

I am now working as a consultant helping leaders, at all levels,to
initiate and sustain change. I am particularly interested in what
motivates leaders to change the way they lead. What can stimulate self
awareness and a desire to do things differently? Leaders are pressured by
the sytem to be confident and decisive. Changing to teaching,learning and
being a team player is really tough in these circumstances. What will make
it worthwhile enough to start the process? I believe that leaders should
avoid seeing themselves as in a different class from their employees - no
special lifeboat contracts or out of proportion remuneration packages.
They need to throw in their lot with the others in their organisation and
sink or swim with them. If it rains (or shines) on employees, it should
rain (or shine) on leaders! Unless they change in this way leaders will
not be credible, as stewards, to their employees, and will not stimulate
the commitment to common purpose and learning that organisations need in
order to prosper in the longer term. But it is asking a lot of leaders to
develop in this way. What will help them to do so?

Martin Raff