Measuring Learning Externally LO6492

Terri Deems (
Sun, 7 Apr 1996 19:04:19 -0500 (CDT)

Replying to LO6369 --


Your research interest sounds interesting. I am curious as to why a
person would want to "measure" a learning organization from the
outside. Is this simply for the purpose of being able to invest in
those places that are learning organizations, the idea being that they
will be the ones to do the 'most best' in the coming years?

However, if I were doing so, I guess I would look to their ecological
position; seems that as an organization becomes more socially
conscious internally, it cannot help but become increasingly socially
conscious externally as well. I might also look to how they have
changed their facility size; as organizations become more sensitive,
more community-oriented (internally), they will have to cease creating
physical sites that house thousands of employees and return to more, and
smaller, facilities.

Even so, I think we have to use extreme caution in attempting to judge
an organization from the outside only--e.g., the old saying of we
can't judge a book by its cover. I've known organizations that looked
very good from the outside, but were a mess internally because they
didn't become mindful of the internal life it held. Looking at how
quickly and how well a company anticipates/responds to an event is
also somewhat suspect: there are many times when it is as much luck
as it is preparedness.

You are quite right, I think, that short term mistakes must become
more acceptable in order to achieve sustainable long-term prosperity
(I cringe at the word advantage--needlessly competitive, to me). The
concept of a learning organization is a process-focus more than
anything else. Were I to consider investing in such a company, I
would very much look internally to whatever depth was possible. The
organization where learning and development were pervasive, as opposed
to the one where learning and development is only done in spots, or in
a shallow manner, is the one in which I'd put my money. The
philosophy must be there before any strategy or technique can ever be
truly effective.

Good luck on your project!

Terri A Deems
Deems Associates Inc

-- (Terri Deems)

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