Learning, organizational

Drawing by the author

Basically, it’s simple

Learning is about making experiences, processing them, and — in the best case — using them beneficially in the future for whatever you generally want to achieve.

  1. can and do share learning experiences on a regular basis,
  2. evaluate their experiences together and purposefully,
  3. use their jointly gained insights for the next learning experience — that is, for their next (learning) success.
Drawing by the author

Learning, Made Easy

The rapid business successes of learning organizations have long been visible to literally everyone (for example, in the form of omnipresent Amazon parcels). It has long since become generally accepted how important, even vital, learning structures are for organizations. For a long time now, concrete, easy-to-implement approaches have been around to make organizations learning-oriented./1/

Could it be related to the fact that we cannot yet believe in learning organizations?

After all, the definition of learning given above and the recommended three-step process are likely to contradict our personal and social experiences of life.

“Hierarchy help!”

In the outlined everyday socio-psychological game, that is, in doing, we learn what the personal and social pattern of success looks like. It is well described by “command and control.” Better educated people tell others what to do and then control the implementation.

Drawing by the author

It so happens that, for example,

individual officials and committees in government departments write curricula that teachers, students, and parents must subsequently implement. Teachers tell their students how to do what and then give appropriate grades for the results. Managers or management committees create business and project plans, which the company and project teams then have to execute. Engineers develop processes that skilled workers will implement, etc.

Because we generally organize ourselves in this way

and that for a long time and apparently quite successfully — we learn that within our organization there are certain specialists or committees of specialists at different positions who take care of good and correct decisions due to their expertise and their function. And we also learn that we don’t need to worry about their decisions. We have our own clearly defined sphere of responsibility and duties./4/

Human beings, creatures of habit

For a long time, this hierarchical form of knowledge transfer, task distribution, and organization, aimed at the expertise and decision-making power of the individual, was a guarantee of stable success. And no doubt it still does a good job in many areas and will continue to do so for a while.

Drawing by the author

But this is not so much because

hierarchical patterns of thinking, acting, and learning are ineffective or bad per se. Rather, they no longer fit the changing circumstances so well. For today these are more unsteady, more uncertain, less plannable.

Drawing by the author

To do this, the many relevant events

have to be noticed quickly, in order to evaluate them and to make good decisions in time. Hierarchical communication structures are too non-permeable and too lengthy for this, at least comparatively./5/

Drawing by the author

“Change or Die”?

In uncertain times like these, this could be an overly risky game. So it’s about time that the skilled experts that we all start to create organizational environments, to connect our expertise, to learn together, and to decide together and together well.

Notes

  • /1/ E.g. Kanban, Scrum, Design Thinking
  • /2/ Analogous applies in general to experiences we have on the job: Those who meet predetermined goals are rewarded with monetary and/or status gains
  • /3/ So, for example, teacher, student, and class, team member and team, citizen and society, etc.
  • /4/ As a student it might be memorization, as a product manager, it’s to take care of my product line, as a sales representative it’s to take care of my assigned customers, etc.
  • /5/ At least more impermeable and tedious than their agile counterparts.

About the Author

Photo by Edgar Rodehack

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