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Learning Organisation

Organisational Structure and Design - Second Assignment

Submitted To
Dr. G. Muruganandham

Submitted By
RAMESH P L
Roll no : 215109008

Submitted On
th
25 September 2009

DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT STUDIES

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

TIRUCHIRAPALLI
Contents

Contents 1
1.INTRODUCTION 3
1.1 Definition of learning organisation 4
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1.2 History 5
1.3 Organisational Learning and Learning
Organisation 6
2.BENEFITS OF LEARNING ORGANISATION 7
2.1 Peoples benefits 8
2.1.1 Greater motivation
2.1.2 The workforce is more flexible
2.1.3 People are more creative
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2.1.4 Improved social interaction
2.2 Teams benefits 9
2.2.1 Knowledge sharing " Openness
Creates Trust "
2.2.2 Interdependency
2.3 The Company Benefits 10
2.3.1 Breakdown of traditional communication
barriers
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2.3.2 Customer relations
2.3.3 Information resources
2.3.4 Innovation and creativity
3.FIVE DISCIPLINES 12
3.1 Systems Thinking 12
3.2 Personal mastery 13
3.3 Mental models 14
3.4 Shared vision 14
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3.5 Team learning 15
3.6 The Fifth Discipline 16
3.7 The Laws of the Fifth Discipline 17
4. BUILDING A LEARNING ORGANISATION 19
4.1 Building Blocks 19
4.1.1 Awareness
4.1.2 Environment
4.1.3 Empowerment
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4.1.4 Learning
4.2 Leadership 21
4.2.1 Leader as designer.
4.2.2 Leader as steward.
4.2.3 Leader as teacher.
4.3 Implementation Strategies 22
4.3.1 Accidental
4.3.2 Subversive
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4.3.3 Declared
4.4 Problems that may be encountered in a
Learning Organisation 23
4.4.1 Organisational barriers to learning
4.4.2 Individual barriers to learning
5. CASE STUDIES ON ABN AMRO 25
5.1 Innovation & Creativity 25
5.1.1 Social and Environmental Innovative
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Sustainability
5.1.2 Common Office Environment (COE)
Deployment Project
5.1.3 Pathlore Learning Management Solution
5.2 Culture 27
5.3 Continuous Improvement 28
5.4 Conclusion 29
6. CONCLUSION 30
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References 31

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1
INTRODUCTION

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Without learning, the wise become foolish; by learning, the foolish
become wise

- Confucius

You live to learn or you don’t live long

- Lazarus Long
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Learning is knowledge acquired by study. The underlying cause for recent
emphasis on organisational learning is because of the increased pace of
change. The organizations that will truly excel in the future will be those that

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find how to tap people’s commitment and develop the capacity to learn at all
levels in an organization.

A Learning Organization is the term given to a company that facilitates the


learning of its members and continuously transforms itself. It is a concept
that is becoming an increasingly widespread philosophy in modern
companies, from the largest multinationals to the smallest ventures.

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1.1 Definition of learning organisation
There are varying definitions of a Learning Organization in published
literature, although the core concept between them all remains clear.

According to Peter Senge

Organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the


results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are
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nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are
continually learning to learn together.

According to Pedlar, Boydell and Burgoyne

An organization that facilitates the learning of all its members and


consciously transforms itself and its context

According to Mayo and Lank


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A learning organisation harnesses the full brainpower, knowledge and
experience available to it, in order to evolve continually for the benefit of all
its stakeholders

According to Nancy Dixon

An organisation that learns and encourages learning among its people. It


promotes exchange of information between employees hence creating a

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more knowledgeable workforce. This produces a very flexible organisation
where people will accept and adapt to new ideas and changes through a
shared vision

To summarize the learning organisation is one in which

• Learns about internal and external environment


• Learning is continues

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• Easily adopts to change and new ideas
• People learn together
• Learning is also between employees

1.2 History

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Major research into `the art of learning' did not actually start until the
1900's. In the 1950's, the concept of Systems Thinking was introduced but
never implemented.

One of the systems used was called Decision Support Systems (DSS). This
was for the use of corporate executives to help them make decisions for the
future. One benefit of DSS was that it made implicit knowledge explicit. This
makes extra knowledge available to the organisation and will tend to allow
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the organisation to learn better because explicit knowledge will tend to
spread faster through an organisation. In the 1970's, the same idea was
renamed to Organisational Learning. One of the early researchers in this field
was Chris Arygris from Harvard. He published a book on the subject in 1978.
Even with this published information the concept still wasn't physically taken
on by any companies.

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In the 1980's, companies discovered time as a new source of competitive
advantage. This lead to `capabilities-based competition' which included the
capability of learning. Many other people have continued along this line of
research, such as Peter Senge, M. Pedler, J. Burgoyne and Tom Boydell.

The term learning organisation was first keyed by Peter Senge in his book
“The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization”
published in 1990. Later the term was defined further by Pedler et all in the
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year 1991. Implementation of the learning organization has its origins in
companies like Shell, Toyoto, Abm AMRO. Nowadays many organisations are
turning out to learning organisation.

1.3 Organisational Learning and Learning Organisation

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Organizational learning is an area of knowledge within organizational theory
that studies models and theories about the way an organization learns and
adapts. While learning organisation uses the theoretical findings of
organizational learning (and other research in organisational development,
system theory, and cognitive science) in order to prescribe specific
recommendations about how to create organizations that continuously and
effectively learn.

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2
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BENEFITS OF LEARNING
ORGANISATION

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In the long run, the only sustainable source of competitive
advantage is your organization's ability to learn faster than its
competitior

-Peter Senge

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Organizations do not organically develop into Learning Organizations; there
are usually factors prompting their change. It has been found that as
organizations grow, they lose their natural capacity to learn as company
structures and individual thinking becomes rigid.When problems arise in the
company, the solutions that are proposed often turn out to be only short
term and the problem re-emerge in the future. To remain competitive, many
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organizations have restructured, which has resulted in fewer people in the
company. This means those who remain need to work more effectively. To
create a competitive advantage, companies need to be able to learn faster
than their competitors and also develop a customer responsive culture.

2.1 Peoples benefits

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A Learning Organisation encourages its members to improve their personal
skills and qualities, so that they can learn and develop. They benefit from
their own and other people's experience, whether it be positive or negative.

2.1.1 Greater motivation


People are appreciated for their own skills, values and work. All opinions are
treated equally and with respect. By being aware of their role and

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importance in the whole organisation, the workers are more motivated to
"add their bit". This encourages creativity and free-thinking, hence leading to
novel solutions to problems. All in all there is an increase in job satisfaction.

2.1.2 The workforce is more flexible


People learn skills and acquire knowledge beyond their specific job
requirements. This enables them to appreciate or perform other roles and

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tasks. Flexibility allows workers to move freely within the organisation, whilst
at the same time it removes the barriers associated with a rigidly structured
company. It also ensures that any individual will be able to cope rapidly with
a changing environment, such as those that exist in modern times.

2.1.3 People are more creative

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There are more opportunities to be creative in a learning organisation. There
is also room for trying out new ideas without having to worry about mistakes.
Employees' creative contribution is recognised and new ideas are free to
flourish.

2.1.4 Improved social interaction


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Learning requires social interaction and interpersonal communication skills.
An organisation based on learning will ensure members become better at
these activities. Teams will work better as a result.

2.2 Teams benefits

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Learning Organisations provide the perfect environment for high performing
teams to learn, grow and develop. On the other hand these teams will
perform efficiently for the organisation to produce positive results.

2.2.1 Knowledge sharing " Openness Creates Trust "


A team is composed of highly specialised members who cannot and are not
expected to know everything about a job. In this case the sharing of common

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knowledge is quite important for the completion of a job. Within learning
organisations in general, and teams in particular, information and knowledge
flows around more freely. This makes for higher productivity within teams
and between teams as they build on each other’s strengths. Trust between
team members increases and hence they value each other’s opinions more.

2.2.2 Interdependency

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In any organisation people depend on each other for the completion of their
jobs. Learning Organisations will increase this awareness, and improve
relations between people at a personal level. By knowing more about other
people's roles, needs and tasks, members can manage their time better and
plan their work more efficiently. This dependency is decreased as learning is
enhanced, letting people get on with their own job better as they rely less on
others.

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2.3 The Company Benefits
An active learning organisation will have at its heart the concept of
continuous learning. Therefore it will always be improving in its techniques,
methods and technology.

2.3.1 Breakdown of traditional communication


barriers
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The old hierarchical communication barrier between manager-worker has
devolved into more of a coach-team member scenario. Leaders support the
team, not dictate to it. The team appreciates this which in turn helps them to
be highly motivated.

All workers have an increased awareness of the company's status, and all
that goes on in other departments. Communication between and across all
layers of the company gives a sense of coherence, making each individual a
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vital part of the whole system. Workers perform better as they feel more a
part of the company; they are not just pawns in a game.

2.3.2 Customer relations


A company's first priority is its customer's needs. A Learning Organisation
cuts the excess bureaucracy normally involved with customer relations
allowing greater contact between the two. If the customer’s requirements

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change, learning organisations can adapt faster and cope more efficiently
with this change.

2.3.3 Information resources


Over time a company builds up a pool of learning, in the form of libraries,
and human expertise. This pool of knowledge within learning organisations is

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larger than average. New problems and challenges can be met faster using
this increased resource.

2.3.4 Innovation and creativity


As more people in every level of a company engage in continual learning a
valid contribution can come from any member of the company, and from any
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part of the company. Being innovative and creative is the responsibility of
the whole workforce and allows learning organisations to adapt to changes in
the state of the market, technology and competition efficiently.

Moreover, this creativity gives rise to an increased synergy. The interaction


between high performing teams produces a result which is higher than was
planned or expected of them.

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