Senge says organizations have six learning challenges (all of which, of course, hinder their ability to truly become "learning organizations"):
(1) Identity with individual jobs. 'I am a secretary'. 'I am a financial aid officer.' 'I am a human resource specialist.' Employees understand their tasks and duties; what they don't understand is their purpose in the organization. Have you ever known anyone that says, 'Well, that's not my job!' People who strongly define themselves by their jobs feel helpless and powerless, and they rarely take ownership for anything that goes wrong. These linear thinkers blame their boss, the 'organization,' someone in another division, or YOU (one of their peers)! Until employees see themselves are part of something much bigger than 'their individual jobs', an organization cannot become a learning organization.
(2) Shhhhhh: the enemy is waiting to trap us! When employees begin to almost always blame an external source for problems or challenges, then the organization is anything but a 'learning organization.' There is limited knowledge (or acceptance) for the fact that our jobs are a small part of a much bigger system, and 'out there' is anywhere but 'in here'. Everything is segmented into silo - another linear approach to thinking.
(3) Delusions of Grandeur. Managers many times solve problems quickly, and get rewarded for doing so. (They got the enemy!) Then these managers are applauded due to their proactive nature. In reality, this type of action is 'reactive' NOT proactive. When we're proactive, we commit to solving our own problems first, and we therefore get very good at 'thinking ahead' and avoiding other problems before they come to full fruition.
(4) F-O-C-U-S on the wrong thing. Most organizations focus on how much they sold (sales), budget cuts, new products/services, research and development, etc. Senge would argue that most events that happen in organizations are chronic vs. acute. Recognition of the patterns of events and happenings over time are what allow an organization to meet the future with confidence. It is this recognition that allows people to make sense of the patterns of behaviors they're seeing, whether internally within the organization or externally in the marketplace. Environmental decay, the erosion of public education, decline in product quality, low-carb diets, etc., are long-term events that have been occurring (in some shape or form) over a period of time. They are chronic events - NOT acute events. And when they finally get around to negatively impacting an organization, it's too late!
(5) Delusional thinking. While we learn from experience (from our mistakes), we convince ourselves that we learn EVERYTHING from our experiences. While this may be true, Senge argues that in many instances for a corporation, it is YEARS before we know what we learned. An example: When Research & Development invents and refines a new product, gets it on shelves for the masses to purchase, then begins to improve the product, etc. While improvements are always welcome in the marketplace, there are many 'improvements' that should have been part of the first introduction. But we don't discover that until much later (one year, three years, five years'who knows!). Our organizational systems many times are not designed to help us 'see' things clearly.
(6) Living in Nor-Nor Land. Management puts on the front that they are in full body armor and ready to take on ANY problem that comes along (while also putting on the front that they can solve ANY problem that comes along). In the meantime, there are employees fighting for their territory, or turf, and working very hard to make themselves look good to management. Therefore, no one â??rocks the boat.' Decisions are made - and many times they are decisions that were reached short of any meaningful dialogue or disagreement - because everyone's putting on a front! It's a disease.
What do you think about these six organizational learning challenges? How do these concepts relate to training & development? Please provide your rationale.
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I agree with Senge on what he says about these six concepts. All too often we put our identity into our job instead of having it in ourselves or with your religion. Our priorities are easily mixed up and we are not able to focus clearly. Anyone who is an employee or in management can easily believe that their boss is out to get them but this is not always the case. All he or she wants is for him or her to do their job and to do it well with as few flaws as possible. I have seen too many managers getting patted on the back for a job well done, instead of taking action to make things happen. They sit back and watch others do it, but they fail to do it themselves and when employees see it, many of ...
This solution provided an opinion on the six learning challenges as well as related them to training and development.