Keith B. Shaheen
January 16, 2014
Defining the Learning Organization
A book called The Fifth Discipline was published by Peter Senge in 1990 creating a lot of fuss concerning management thinking changes. This book is considered a common model with corporate offices. The author of this article examines two organizations, which experimented with the theories of the learning organization and tries to answer questions of how to become a learning organization, and are organizations learning units by nature. In defining learning organization, the author needed to distinguish the difference between a few key terms. These terms are organizational development, organizational learning, learning organization, and knowledge management (Marrapodi, 2003).
Organizational development is the theory and practice of a planned change in the attitude, value, and belief of employees by creating and reinforcing training programs. This starts with a study of the current situation and future requirements. The goal of organizational development is to enable the company to better embrace the changing environment of new regulations, technologies, and new markets (Business Dictionary, 2014).
Organizational learning is the continuous process which enhances the company’s ability to accept, understand and respond to the external and internal changes. Organizational learning is the integration and interpretation of new information, which leads to action and consist of taking a risk as with experimentation (Business Dictionary, 2014).
The Learning Organization obtains knowledge and modernizes itself fast enough to endure and succeed in a rapidly changing world. Learning organizations encourage and support employee learning. This allows for employees to learn from their mistakes and shares the new knowledge with everyone in the organization (Business Dictionary).
Knowledge management is the strategy and process designed to identify, and share the organizations knowledgeable resources to assist in the organization’s performance and competitiveness. This is based on capturing the knowledge, and sharing it throughout the organization (Business Dictionary, 2014).
The author expands on Senge’s book, The Fifth Discipline, by defining learning organization as an individual expanding his or her ability to craft the results he or she desires. The author goes on to explain the five disciplines of personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning, and systems thinking. Personal mastery is learning to grow an individual’s personal ability to craft his or her most desired results, and craft an environment, which inspires every individual to improve him or herself toward the objective they have chosen. Mental models are looking at, and cultivating the internal view of the world, and looking at how this shapes his or her decisions. Shared vision is the obligation within a group, improving shared views of the future that is sought to create. This is the monitor and ethical practices used to hopefully reach this goal. Team learning is the changing of everyone’s intellectual inputs to achieve a higher learning than only from the individual. System thinking is the thought process, and understanding the behavior systems. This discipline assists in understanding how to make changes more successfully. This also provides the group with an understanding of the larger picture of the financial world (Marrapodi, 2003).
This article discusses other author’s views and theories about the learning organization. This also looked at practical applications on a couple of organizations. The Providence Assembly of God was introduced to the Organizational Learning Profile. A survey was conducted with the