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Learning Organization Data Analysis

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Tyler Waye

on 28 September 2012

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Transcript of Learning Organization Data Analysis

Preliminary Data Analysis
Of 5 Interviews Towards Becoming a
Learning Organization And within those 2 patterns,
several themes popped up. And just beyond this prominent notion,
2 major patterns emerged Pattern 1:
Consensus on good organizational characteristics Pattern 2:
The Challenging of
Learning Organization Principles The prominent notion that permeated all
interviews was the implied breakdown of a true destination known as a Learning Organization. Network Presence Understanding Organizational
Context Willing to accept mistakes
and learn from them Personnel is key Solid leadership is fundamental Having a bridge concept to
connect people within the
organization and beyond Systems Thinking vs.
Complexity Thinking A common shared vision
vs. emergence Reflection Managing (disciplining action) vs.
Learning (inducing greater interaction) "Balancing order and disorder" Context But in reality... "depending on the ecological conditions that the organization faces, how you implement will be different. So a small company in Western Canada has to build trust networks a lot harder than a small company in silicon valley. Because a manager there has a larger trust network." "You have to stand back and ask too, is your framing of your relevant environments still appropriate." "I guess what I’m saying is there’s lots of good stuff buried here, it’s teasing it out, figuring out how to use it in different contexts usefully, and finding practical ways of making it work according to the people you’ve got in front of you." Reflection "You learn from the good things, but the greatest learning achieved, in my view, is when things go wrong. And it’s not about what happens, it’s about how you react to it as an organization." "A key for me is a reflective culture, so one that steps off the treadmill, hopefully semi regularly, but to do some of those things, like question assumptions, questioning the understanding of the context..." "But if we were to go back to that notion, of what would learning really look like, people working and learning together, we’d have to go back to, what does it mean to be critically aware of the problems in your environment." Network Presence "Then there’s building human sensor networks with enough variety in them that you get weak signals and outliers feeding through to senior management very quickly." "but we find that in the high tech companies and the new environmental firms. These are small, networked, project-oriented firms that are constantly experimenting. They are young, they are dynamic, and they’re small." "I would see it much more as the ability to sustain a noble network presence both within the organization and within its customers base, with the ability to respond quickly and recover from failure. Perhaps the focus on resilience, which accepts failure as inevitable, seems to me fairly self-evident, but people still try to avoid it. The focus on fast detection for fast recovery. " Bridge Concept Leadership Personnel "The first thing when you're coaching or when you're leading something, the first thing you have to get into people’s heads is that this is where we are getting to. This is our end goal. And we're going to take as straight a path as possible to that end goal. " "Even the simple thing of a shared vision causes you to reflect and say whose vision, and how does it interact and relate to all the other visions?" "I think the whole issue of a shared vision is good management, it’s not learning organization, that’s been around for decades, the idea of how do you help communicate and help people together build a vision they all buy into..." "I mean all organizations that are successful have very strong leadership, they have very direct leadership." "you have to have a very strong leader to have a learning organization." "They showed that well intended mistakes are accepted. If you made a mistake and you came forward and said listen, I made a mistake, the leader would be very supportive and say thank you for standing up and saying you made a mistake now tell me what you’re going to do about it. And helping that person correct the mistake. " "the number one thing I learned is you have to be picky about whom you roll with. It’s like that old saying, you are who you roll with." "For example, if you’re starting a business right now and you’re going to hire people, you need to be intentional with your culture, understand what that means to you, and you need to live it and breathe it, and that’s so hard to do. " "To change an organization that has functioned in a particular way, it takes time and takes the right people. We gradually had to get others to get with the program when they walked through the door. The Old Guard were great people, there was nothing wrong with them, they just had a different way of thinking..." Systems Thinking vs. Complexity Thinking The learning organization notion is based on a systems thinking framework. However, some people are starting to believe that systems thinking is not the ideal way to try to develop an organization. As an alternative, those who do not believe in systems thinking (learning organizations), offer a framework based on complexity management "The main difference is in systems thinking you define a future state, an ideal state then try to achieve it and complexity is described in the presence and you seek to evolve forward from it." Shared Vision
vs. Emergence This key difference between systems thinking and complexity thinking culminates in the notion of a desired future state (shared vision) vs. the notion of emergence. A shared vision is a future, ideal destination an organization tries to get to. Emergence, rather, deals only with today and embraces quick interaction, attempting to amplify what's working and dampen what's not. Some believe, a shared vision of the future is not helpful in getting the diversity needed for quick interaction. Therefore, the belief is that systems thinking actually slows down organizational learning "Balancing Order and Disorder' From those who challenge the Learning Organization concept, the suggestion is to have organizations stay small and responsive. Also to set up operations in a way that encourages interaction, honest feedback and an acceptance of mistakes. The suggested pursuit is for an organization to continue exploring and learning how to balance "order and disorder." This means the intention is to balance how an organization can discipline processes, allowing the organization to function, while at the same time, not disciplining too much so that interaction, diversity and experimentation (characteristics of disorder) are lost. The belief is that embracing complexity (disorder) is what is truly required for organizational learning to occur. These concepts are not very different from the good practices described in pattern 1. The difference, however, is the way in which these characteristics are attempted to be developed within the organization Themes Like: Challenging Notions Like: This theme emerged and spoke of the need for organizations to stay highly connected to their context. Here are some of the quotes: The concept of reflection came up often and was described as the ability to review what has happened, and what is happening. Here are some of the quotes: This intriguing theme spoke of the need to stay connected to your environment and customers. It also touched on the role a network plays in receiving feedback. Here are some of the quotes: The bridge concept theme was often spoken of as a shared vision. However, it also emerged as a simple connecting notion that serves as a reason for groups to continue interacting together. Includes quotes like: Leadership was not a prominent theme, yet it did emerge often. It was often described in ways connected to other themes or as a foundational piece in the development of organizations. Quotes like: The personnel theme described the importance of having intentionally selected people in the organization. Quotes emerged like:
The main themes that emerged from the
good practice consensus were: Staying connected to organizational context
Developing a reflective culture
Establishing a network presence
Building a bridge concept to connect the organization
Having leaders who can genuinely support these organizational characteristics
Hand selecting personnel for the unique qualities they bring to the organization The main themes that challenged some of the
foundational concepts of learning organizations were: Systems Thinking vs. Complexity Thinking
Shared Vision (Future, ideal state) vs. Emergence (defining presence and evolving from it)
Balancing order and disorder in a way that promotes learning and smooth function And there we have the "Coles Notes" that emerged from three hours of interviews with five experts. In actuality, the conversations went much deeper. However, for the purpose of this focus group, the main patterns and themes offer a strong foundation for the concepts that were covered. I look forward to our conversation together on October 8th. Consensus Theme 1: Stay highly aware of
organizational context Consensus Theme 2: Develop a reflective culture Consensus Theme 3: Establish a network presence with
customers and within the organization's environment Consensus Theme 4: Create some kind of bridging concept that brings people together and gives them reason to work hard together Consensus Theme 5: Ensure leaders are able to
create an environment and support the organizational
characteristics that are sought Definition of Systems Thinking: the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole (Wikipedia)

Definition of Complexity Thinking: the process of understanding how organizations adapt to their environments and how they deal with uncertainty.
(Wikipedia) Definition of Emergence: the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. (Wikipedia) Let's look inside the microscope Challenging Notion 1: Do not try to view the organization through a systems lens as some who promote learning organizations suggest. Instead, view the organization through a complexity management lens. Challenging Notion 2: Systems thinking, and traditional learning organization teachings, suggest developing a future, ideal state to target. Complexity management suggests getting highly aware of the present and working forward through small experiments from there, never worrying about future. Challenging Notion 3: Don't attempt to manage too much, as traditional views on learning organizations may lead you to do. This will only slow down learning. Instead, stay small so management is reduced, and encourage diversity, feedback and fluidity.
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