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Define the term Learning Organisation


Some examples of organisations describing themselves as learning organisations
Thelma Williams

7 Responses

  1. Learning Organisations
    “A Learning Organisation is one in which people at all levels, individuals and collectively, are continually increasing their capacity to produce results they really care about.”
    Says Richard Karash.

    The Learning Organisation is a concept that is becoming an increasingly widespread philosophy in modern companies, from the largest multinationals to the smallest ventures. What is achieved by this philosophy depends considerably on one’s interpretation of it and commitment to it.

    A definition could be:

    An organisation that learns and encourages learning among its people. It promotes exchange of information between employees hence creating a more knowledgable workforce. This produces a very flexible organisation where people will accept and adapt to new ideas and changes through a shared vision.

    I think in essence it is the giving and accepting of responsibility and accountability with the trust and confidence that is given from above, some might laugh, but look at the grass roots of the NHS, the nurses on the front line, they have accountability for their practice and performance, they accept this because they want to excel in their field, be the very best that they can be.
    The money isn’t there, so they have to source information themselves, find the funding, manage the time off and know that ultimately it will create a career path for them, and also benefit the patient.
    So in it’s bare bones, the NHS is a learning organisation. If you could apply corporate money to it, it would be fantastic. Because the Intellectual Capital locked up in it is brilliant and self directed

    There are a few example out on the Internet.
    Motorola is an example, Apple Japan I think.

    I’ve got some stuff on it if you would like to email me I’d be happy to send some papers over.

    [email protected]

  2. DefinitionLearning Organisation
    The best definition of a Learning organisation can be summaries: The difference between individual /group and organisation learning is to consider a performing organisation , such as an orchestra/football team etc. The winning of a football game cannot be attributed to individuals alone. It is the result of the know-how embedded in the whole “group” working together.
    More case studies on learning organisations can be obtained in M.J Marquardt,
    book “Building the Learning Organisation”.

  3. Learning Organisations
    I have a copy of an article by Peter Honey “the Learning Organisation Simplified” that I think is quite good in that he talks about wanted and unwanted behaviours and how to work towards establishing them. Its only a short article and I could send it on if you want [email protected]

  4. Learning organisation as a metaphor
    I prefer to see the learning organisation as a powerful metaphor and force, enabling the development of new values and new ways of seeing the world in which the organisation operates.

    I have used the following that you might find helpful. A learning organisation is one that establishes a journey of individual, team and organisational growth through learning and integrates each of these in a holistic and coherent strategy.
    You will find other useful material on the sites of two networks I am involved with: European Consortium for the Learning Organisations and Society for Organisational Learning

  5. Definition of a Learning Organisation
    Learning organisations focus on creating, capturing and transferring knowledge to support quality and performance. A Learning Organisation is structured so that new knowledge leads to changes in processes to improve performance.

  6. what ever you want?!
    I think all the previous definitions have merit, and ultimately you pick one which best fits your own world view and the context you are working within. That said, here’s my musing on the subject:

    A learning individual reflects on an experience and consciously seeks to determine future action based on this experience. A simple example – you’ll likely only put your hand in the fire once!

    A learning organisation is an organisation that does the same, but here’s the rub – over time, people come and people go. But the learning organisation shouldn’t forget the lessons of the past – perhaps this is why such organisations are so few & far between.

    The closest I have experienced this was while serving on a helicopter squadron in the RAF. Aircrew have a culture and tradition of swapping ‘war stories’ in the crew room and at the bar. It’s a great way for people (the new guys) to learn the art of safe military flying which isn’t and can’t be covered in formal training programmes. Often these stories are of near misses, sometimes stories of people who were caught out and paid the ultimate price. Pilots come & go, and sometimes in war they go quickly.

    Often mistakes aren’t repeated unless somebody is being very human, or is simply messing about.

    To be fair to the RAF there are formal structures and cultures that foster this behaviour, and it is no doubt replicated in every flying unit across the RAF, and I guess the RN too.

    It’s a pity other organisations seek to smother the telling of such stories, and seek to stamp on people who make mistakes, driving such stories underground.

  7. Learning organization
    Hello everybody, Please call me Nizam. I’m a student of MSc. Knowledge Management at Universiti Technology Mara, Malaysia, together with my friend Azizi (the designer). I’m interested with the subject creating learning organization. To become a learning organization, first the organization must begin from scratch by identifying the questions to be come learning organization:
    1) what are the organization going to learn?
    2) how fast the learning can adapt and absorb into learning organization?
    3) why are they learn (the objectives)?
    4) who exactly in the organization that are going to learn (individuals and groups)?
    5)how or using what they are going to learn (the medium or tools)?
    Then the organization must build the steps of organizational learning based from the subsystems of learning (Marquardt, 1996) i.e. knowledge, people, technology and organization.


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