Why we need to become learning organisations

Peter Senge’s 1990 book “The Fifth Discipline” brought to the mainstream the concept of a learning organisation. He suggested as far back as then that for organisations to gain a competitive advantage, become more efficient and to increase the pace of change, they must adapt and become learning organisations.


What is a learning organisation?


A learning organisation:


  • Values continuous development which is systemically built into its DNA

  • Espoused, driven and modelled by the CEO & senior management

  • Communication is open & widespread

  • People at all levels are included and most communication ‘everyone needs to know’


Characteristics of a learning organisation (Senge, 1990):


  • Personal mastery

  • Mental models

  • Building a shared vision

  • Team learning

  • Systems thinking


Some examples of learning organisations:


  • Google

  • GE

  • Goldman Sachs

  • Pizza Hut

  • Microsoft

  • Honeywell

  • Johnson & Johnson

  • Apple

  • Toyota

  • USA Today


Why is it important now more than ever?


Sadly, COVID-19 has highlighted a lot of opportunities for development that perhaps should have already been addressed. We will never know, as we cannot travel through time, yet.


One thing we can do is to observe the speed of reaction that some organisations have demonstrated during these dark hours. We won’t get a true picture until we are over the pandemic and back to our new normal. We can however look at a few examples of those that appear to have demonstrated the values and principles of learning organisations.


One recent example is the German company TIB Molbiol Syntheselabor GmbH. Olfert Landt, who leads the company, had kept an eye on the situation of the virus in China and by 10th Jan 2020 had produced a viable test for the disease, allowing Germany to be in a position to be ahead of the curve.


Mr Landt, clearly an expert in his own right, but there are many other experts in his field, so why him, why his company?


Being ahead of the curve, or at least in the best possible position to react to the curve is surely the aim of every competitive organisation. The question is, how to do so in a fast changing World that we live in now?


Sources: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/06/matt-hancock-biotech-germany-coronavirus-health-system


https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/16/cdc-who-coronavirus-tests/


https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-12/a-berlin-biotech-company-got-a-head-start-on-coronavirus-tests




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