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Building Blocks of Learning Organizations - EWB Presentation at Microlinks, Sep 17 2013

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Amir Allana

on 17 September 2013

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Transcript of Building Blocks of Learning Organizations - EWB Presentation at Microlinks, Sep 17 2013

1) Credit where credit is due...

2) I'm no expert
3) This presentation is the tip of the iceberg

Specifically (but not limited to) taking a facilitative approach to market systems and value chain development
Great program design, great interventions
Excellent staff capacity: knowledge, skills, and attitudes
Great organization that is able to learn and adapt
Learning Organizations: Enabling Flexible, Adaptive Programming to Stimulate Behavior Change in Complex Systems
Organizational structures, tools, and leadership styles to manage very COMPLICATED programming
Organizational structures, tools, and leadership styles to manage very COMPLEX programming
Side Note - What's the Difference?
COMPLICATED - More predictability. Lots of moving parts, but cause-effect relationships are clear, and we can know them through understanding each individual part. We can also know the 'best/right' answer, even though it may be incredibly difficult to do.
COMPLEX - Fundamentally unknowable. Each part (a) has autonomy, and (b) adapts and changes over time. Hidden causal relationships that aren't apparent until acted upon. There is no 'best/right' answer, and even when there is it changes over time...
Three fundamental pillars of a highly adaptive learning organization geared to create change in complex adaptive systems...
DO a lot. EXPERIMENT. TRY lots of things (aimed at same overarching objective) - since we don't know the 'right' answer...

Staff and teams REFLECT often and CRITICALLY on successes and failures

QUICKLY respond to above by ADAPTING and CHANGING activities and programs

So what does this look like?
So what does this look like?
But first...
... but we can't manage for this directly - it needs to be organic.
So we build organizations and teams where we maximize the probability of these behaviors emerging naturally
Building blocks of learning organizations
Outcome-oriented, consistently messaged, mutually understood mission
Buffering staff from off-key messages. Translating donor requests rather than transmitting them to staff
Open concept office, rather than segregated workspace
Whiteboards and 'discussion-inciting' shared spaces
Group-based communication technology
Quarterly reviews and plans (rather than annual)
Self-managed weekly personal work plans
Learning and questioning being a performance metric
After-action reviews
Asking powerful questions (and investigating them) is expected of everyone (part of job description)
Physical / Office Space
and Infrastructure
Planning Processes and Reporting Structures
Consistent Mission & Messaging
Full transcript