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Make Learning Matter: Become a Learning Organization

It’s a common misconception that learning is automatic. If you want to know something, you simply go ahead and learn about it, right? Well, not so fast. In her article for About Money, Susan M. Heathfield discusses a long list of ways to learn how to become a learning organization. Here, insight is drawn from the book by Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the learning Organization.

Seeing Systems

For those who are unfamiliar with Senge’s work, the “Fifth Discipline” basically boils down to systems thinking. If you’re a total geek for theory, you’ll jump at the chance to analyze the “underlying structure and the interlinking components of each of our work systems,” that “shape a great deal of the behavior of the individuals who work inside the work system.” For those who are just waiting for the punch line, remember this: It’s better to look at the systemic nature of a problem before rashly assigning blame.

Personal Mastery

Another central tenant of the learning organization is personal mastery. Imagine if each individual in the enterprise were fully engaged and in a constant process of growth and fulfillment. Seems a bit implausible, yes, but reaching such an ideal state is part of the learning transformation, of altering our mental models to more accurately reflect reality.

Lead, Love, Learn

Basically, we learn in teams and find purpose in groups. Therefore, the learning organization begins with a leader’s shared vision being communicated to the organization, and ends with every member sharing their input for how to improve and to move that vision forward. In between leading and collaborating are a plethora of methods and tactics to improve organizational learning. From attending conferences, to debriefing project initiatives, to building individual development plans, Heathfield offers a range of possibilities to evolve your business into a powerful learning network.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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