Learning organization

In general

A learning organization is the term that a guy named Peter Senge has given to a company that facilitates the learning of its members and continuously transforms itself.

A learning organization develops as a result of the pressures facing modern organizations and enables them to remain competitive in the business environment. That’s why learning organizations can find news ways to create a competitive advantage.

According to Senge, every learning organization has five main features:

  • systems thinking
  • personal mastery
  • mental models
  • shared vision
  • team learning

It encourages organizations to shift to a more interconnected way of thinking. Organizations should become more like communities that employees can feel a commitment to. This will keep employees motivated to work harder for an organization they are committed to.

Benefits:

  • Maintaining levels of innovation and remaining competitive
  • Being better placed to respond to external pressures
  • Having the knowledge to better link resources to both customer and employee needs
  • Improving quality of outputs at all levels
  • Increasing the pace of change within the company
Not to be confused with organizational learning:

The term "learning organization", not to be confused with organizational learning, was popularized by Peter Senge. It describes an organization with an ideal learning environment, perfectly in tune with the organization's goals. Such an organization is a place where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire.

How to become a learning organization:

Becoming a learning organization starts with a solid vision, a people oriented approach and the right tools like a learning management system.

The role of leadership:

Peter Senge emphasized the role of the leader in the creation of this learning organization. He defined three leadership roles that would reshape the old-fashioned approach to being the boss. These are:

Leader as Designer: being the designer of a ship rather than its captain. This includes:

  • Creating a common vision with shared values and purpose
  • Establishing the company policies, strategies, and structures that translate guiding ideas into business decisions
  • Creating effective learning processes which will allow for continuous improvement of the policies, strategies, and structures.

Leader as Teacher: The leader is supposed to be a coach that works with the mental models present in the organization. He must understand the concepts of reality and restructure these views to see beyond the superficial conditions into the underlying causes of the problems.

Leader as Steward: This is about the attitude of the manager/leader. He emphasizes the importance of a leader that feels he is part of something greater: the desire is to build a better organization with a new way of thinking, rather than the traditional desire to boss people around.