When I started to have conversations about organizational learning, the starting point, the primary reference, to which I always go back whenever I get lost in our talking, thinking or doing, are Peter Senge's words in The Fifth Discipline:
"Learning organizations are possible because not only is it our nature to learn but we love to learn. Most of us at one time or another have been part of a great team, a group of people who functioned together in an extraordinary way -who trusted one another, who complemented one another's strengths and compensated for one another's limitations, who had common goals that were larger than individual goals, and who produced extraordinary results. I have met many people who have experienced this sort of profound teamwork -in sports, or in the performing arts, or in business. Many say that they have spent much of their life looking for that experience again. What they experienced was a learning organization."
Ronald Short, in Learning in Relationships (1998), placed people in the neuralgic center of organizations, and said that
"The essence of an Organization is Relationships. Nobody can lead unless she or he has a follower and a relationship. Nobody can be a customer without a supplier and a relationship. That is why relationships and interactions are the 'genetic code' of organizations. What goes on between individuals defines what an organization is and what it can become."
That same year, Jay R. Galbraith wrote about the need for organizations to become reconfigurable:
"The need for a reconfigurable organization arises from the decline in the sustainability of competitive advantages. When advantages do not last long, neither do the organizations that execute them."
The rapid weakening of competitive advantage based on core competence, and the increasing need to adapt to global changing environments, would bring about the (re-)discovery of a long "hidden" treasure of organizational life: the latent talent, and the ability to learn from any and every person in it. This, along with the expansion of the Internet, and the utilization of personal computers and cell phones, would trigger a horizontal explosion of contacts, information, ideas, projects. This horizontality is becoming the new organizational structure, and it is replacing the traditional vertical and compartmentalized model. Individuals and teams collaborate through horizontal and constantly reconfigurable networks, and they do so with an increasing autonomy to invest their energy and resources of all kinds in projects that become an expression of themselves, projects that CONNECT with their interests, competencies, and hopes.
Frank Ostroff was already talking about it in 1999, in The Horizontal Organization:
"It is increasingly apparent that the long-favored vertical model is, by itself, no longer capable of meeting all the different needs of business. It has been rendered inadequate for today's demanding competitive, technological, and workforce environments by its inherent shortcomings."
Such a scenario requires, according to Stephanie Pace Marshall
"courageous leaders who can think and act in integrative, systemic, and soulful ways and who are not afraid to create transformational communities."
Within companies, there is already the need to create learning communities in order to optimize the development of all the talent packed in them.
Blogs We Love
Association of Women in Business Ethiopia AWiB
Live On Your Terms
Living For Purpose