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Properties of a Learning Organization

I need help with the utility of the concept of the learning organization. Please be sure to address the following issues, along with presenting any other ideas about this concept that you find interesting and helpful:

1. What are the properties of Avnet that make it a "learning organization"?
2. To what degree does Avnet approximate the vision of the learning organization and organizational intelligence embodied in the Skyrme case? Why?
3. What do you see as the major factors standing in the way of moving toward the learning organization as a normal state of affairs?
4. What are the major resources that an organization interested in becoming more learning and intelligent might draw upon to facilitate this change?
5. How can attention to the social networks within organizations enhance the development of organizational learning?
6. What, if anything, that thinking about an "organization as a brain" adds to thinking about an "organization as a machine" and an "organization as an organism"

Avnet: Learning at All Levels. Chief Learning Officer. Nov. 2007. http://www.clomedia.com/case-study/2007/November/1976/index.php

Learning about the Learning Organization is with David Skyrme Associates' "Insights on The Learning Organization" (http://www.skyrme.com/insights/3lrnorg.htm)

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1. What are the properties of Avnet that make it a "learning organization"?

Avnet Inc. is a Fortune 500 company that distributes value-added high-tech products such as computer hardware, semiconductors and microwave components. By definition, Avnet is a "learning organization:

"Learning organizations are those that have in place systems, mechanisms and processes, that are used to continually enhance their capabilities and those who work with it or for it, to achieve sustainable objectives - for themselves and the communities in which they participate." (1)

Thus, Avnet places a high value on both individual and collective learning in the workplace. It has a commitment to learning and personal development and provides the systems and tools to promote learning as evidenced on their website: "That means that we've got to treat them with respect and provide them with the tools and training they need to do their jobs" (2). Thus, it is adaptive to its external environment and is continually enhancing their capability to change/adapt. Avnet also uses the results of learning to achieve better results (1). For example, Avnet reports that its employee policy is to "attract, develop and engage," which aims on more than just employee loyalty ? it's also improvements achieving performance. It also rewards performance.

2. To what degree does Avnet approximate the vision of the learning organization and organizational intelligence embodied in the Skyrme case? Why?

To a large degree, Avnet's approach approximates the vision of the learning organization and organizational intelligence embodied in the Skyrme case as evidenced in the following quote encompassing the six characteristics of a learning culture:
"It also gives me a chance to interact personally with members of our leadership team. The class is very conversational ? there's a lot of sharing of ideas. So, for me and for the leaders attending the class, we spend quality time together, away from the demands of a regular workday, talking about and thinking about Avnet's strategies, why we do what we do and where we're going in the future. The leaders also have a chance to meet and connect with leaders from other parts of the business they might not work with on a regular basis, so there's also a networking benefit for them." (2)

In other words, it engages in collective learning and networking across boundaries. Clearly this ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides assistance with the utility of the concept of the learning organization. Through addressing the questions posed, it analyzes Avnet on several dimensions using the principles of a learning organization. It also discuses the barriers to becoming a learning organization and the necessary resources required. The impact of the metaphor "organization as a brain" is also explored. References included.

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