A learning organisation, developed by Peter M.Senge, is a relatively recent idea in modern management.
What is a learning organization according to Dr. Senge’s theory?
The concept of a learning organization was first developed by Peter M.Senge in 1990. Dr. Senge is a senior leadership and sustainability lecturer at Sloan Management School at MIT. He is the founding president of the Organized Learning Society. His work The Fifth Discipline addresses groups for learning.
Dr. Senge says that a learning company fosters learning in a business environment that is changing quickly, to constantly transform into survival and excellence. The extremely complex, interconnected and integrated 21st century global economy creates new challenges for managers and staff who are trying to compete in such a dynamic corporate environment efficiently. The qualities of a learning organisation, which provide the management and staff with tools for creating a vision and for learning, working together and adapting to change, assist to face these issues.
Personal mastery is the subject of an individual capable of clarifying and deepening his own vision, concentrating his efforts, developing patience, and seeing reality freely and honestly as it exists. Personal learning does not provide organizational learning but can’t exist without organizational learning. Thus people must endeavor to learn and live life from a rather reactive creative standpoint. Hence, people should aim for creative rather than reactive ways of learning and living life. Having an extremely clear personal view of how things should be and an very objective understanding of what realities are, would assist the individual in determining a gap between his vision and reality.
Systems thinking is the discipline recognizing the relationship between the pieces that make up a whole, which is the conceptual cornerstone of Senge’s method. It recognizes that organizations are complex systems consisting of many interconnected components, and it is vitally crucial to understanding how the major components interact dynamically to provide life to the system they include. Instead of short-term challenges in each area of the system, organizations must learn to think at the “system level,” with a longer term effect of system dynamics.
Mental models, according to Senge, are “deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures and images that influence how we understand the world and how we act.” An individual’s ability to compare new ideas with internal images of how the world works is represented by mental models. In contrast to new ideas, these mental representations might hinder the latter becoming reality. It is also necessary for an organisation, in order to avoid mental models restricting the organisation’s capacity to implement new thoughts, to encourage openness among their own personnel while giving them the correct direction.
Shared vision is a group’s capacity to construct and have a shared picture of its members’ desired future. It is essential for learning organizations because it provides the focus and energy for learning.” When there is a genuine, widely shared vision within the organization, people strive to learn and excel not because they are told to, but because they want to.
Team learning, under Senge’s theory, is “the process of adjusting and developing the team’s capabilities to create the results that its members really want.” Achieving personal mastery and having a shared vision is important for a learning organization, but it is not enough. People must study together so that they can act together. Team learning begins with a “dialog,” or the act of “thinking together,” in which individuals suspend individual preconceptions and become genuinely communal conscious and thinking.
These 5 key characteristics are shared by efficient learning organisations. It encourages lifelong learning and continuous cooperation to drive the group’s success. Everyone of us has an opportunity to make errors and to learn from them, leading to new ideas and prospects for profit development.
The advantages of becoming a learning organization
A learning organization may constantly challenge an enterprise to better itself. Of course, this prevents stagnant or obsolete business models. This adaptable business strategy may assist to unlock the collective aspirations of everyone engaged with an organisation, in addition to avoiding disadvantages such as these.
Its group nature is a fundamental part of the success of learning. When self-interest and isolation separate coworkers, they can raise problems like fatigue and anxiety in the job, which have proved to decrease productivity considerably. For example, more than half of individuals working with anxiety indicate that their total job performance is affected.
On the other hand, a truly learning organization unleashes a collective potential that may boost interest, commitment and success. Everybody may raise employee interest and commitment, thereby boosting happiness – which has a direct effect on the bottom line of a firm.
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