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Learning Organization

What is an Organization?

The concept of an organization has changed since Moses received advice from his father-in-law about leading the tribes of Israel out of Egypt.

1. Briefly discuss the shift from viewing an organization as a machine to the concept of a learning organization using actual examples.
2. Describe how an organization with which you are familiar has moved toward becoming an organization that supports learning, as defined in Peter Senge's work, The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization.
3. Provide examples of one or more of Senge's characteristics of a learning organization.

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Let's take a closer look at this interesting topic through an outline and potential information for consideration and to get you started. This assignment is considered a short essay question, which will include the three sections of a paper: introduction, body and conclusion like other essays.

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Briefly, the machine metaphor for the organization was about making profit and the people were secondary as human resources to make more profit. This differs significantly form Peter Senge's idea of an organic metaphor with human community primary. For a human community, profit is the consequence of being effective in pursuit of your purpose or mission (see full interview with Peter Senge below, which he expands on his ideas of a learning environment based on systems theory).

I located a wealth of information to consider, so lets take a closer look. Please keep what fits.

1. The concept of an organization has changed since Moses received advice from his father-in-law about leading the tribes of Israel out of Egypt. Briefly discuss the shift from viewing an organization as a machine to the concept of a learning organization using actual examples. Describe how an organization with which you are familiar has moved toward becoming an organization that supports learning, as defined in Peter Senge's work, The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization. Provide examples of one or more of Senge's characteristics of a learning organization.

I. Introduction
II. The Machine Metaphor
III. The Organization as a Learning Organization (e.g., as defined by Peter Senge)
IV. Conclusion (e.g., tie up main points)

Now let's look at some information for you to consider for each section.

The concept of an organization has changed since Moses received advice from his father-in-law about leading the tribes of Israel out of Egypt.... The purpose of this paper is to...

II. The Machine Metaphor

The machine metaphor takes an objective view of an organization in which the interactions among the elements are predictable and controllable. Given that premise, organizational leaders take a mechanistic view of organizational management. The mechanistic view considers the organization as a combination of manageable components with organizational charts, job descriptions, policies, operational plans, people, etc. The machine metaphor is based on an organizational management belief that effective management can be realized by managing all organizational components. http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Role-of-the-Machine-Metaphor-in-Mixed-initiative-Organizational-Leadership&id=59738

From another source:

Organizations as machines -
· The machine metaphor appeals to minds that like orderliness - such as engineers.
· It also ties in with business process re-engineering.
· Any business requiring a high level of efficiency is essentially a machine.
· MacDonald's and similar service businesses are examples - they offer the same product
everywhere all the time at minimum cost and maximum quality - this is machine-like.

· Machines can only be repaired or replaced, they cannot evolve or develop.
· We cannot dispense with this metaphor - contrary to the advocates of adaptiveness.
· All businesses need to deliver today's products efficiently as well as adapt to the future.
· So, all businesses will have a relatively machine-like part.
· Those that compete solely on cost, service and quality, not on innovation, need to be machine-like in their efficiency.
· Problems arise when managers insist on employing only one fundamental metaphor.
· Even fast evolving businesses need to be machine-like if they are to be profitable. http://www.leadersdirect.com/metaphor.html#

Criticism of the Machine metaphor:

In fact, Prosak (n.d.) speaks of the machine metaphor for an organization as an enemy: "The last thing I'd want to say about what kills knowledge in organizations is the machine metaphor. You run up against this constantly. You know, metaphors are really important about how we live. There's a wonderful book by George Lakoff called Metaphors You Live By." His argument is based on the idea that machine are programmed and rigid, whereas organizations are flexible, human and always changing. He points out that a culture or a person can be understood by the metaphors they use, such as the terrible habit in American business and politics of constantly using sports metaphors, the competitive metaphors versus more cooperative metaphors, metaphors that are more about fighting each other competing and less about working together. He argues that this metaphor might make an organization strong in some ways, but it's self-defeating in others. Thus, he considered it a two edged sword. http://www.creatingthe21stcentury.org/Larry17-machine-metaphor.html

The organization as a machine metaphor is no longer suitable (if it ever was). For instance, argues Prosak (n.d), "a machine doesn't need time. It doesn't need reflection. It doesn't need knowledge. A machine needs a little fuel, a little direction. It's a terrible metaphor for anything that needs to react to a changing environment. If the environment changes, does a machine change? Even with the cleverest cybernetic things, not really. It needs humans. And when the environment changes, ...

Solution Summary

Referring to the concept of an organization, this solution discusses the shift from viewing an organization as a machine to the concept of a learning organization using actual examples. It applies the characteristics of the learning environment as defined by Peter Senge to a specific organizational example.

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