Assignment #1 – Theory and Practice of Organizational Learning Shannon Goodwin
Adult Learning Theory
Dr. Rollia Oliver
October 16, 2013
Theory and Practice of Organizational Learning
1. How are learning organizations defined by professionals in the field? Professionals in the field have defined learning organizations in several ways. Senge first introduced the concept of learning organizations in 1990. He defines learning organizations as organizations where employees constantly increase their ability to produce the outcomes they desire, where fresh and opened-minded thinking is encouraged, where shared ambition is freely accepted, and where people are constantly discovering how to work as a team (Merriam, Baumgartner, & Caffarella, 2007). In 1992, Watkins and Marsick portrayed learning organizations, as organizations characterized by employee participating in performing collaborative acts with shared responsibility for change directed towards common values or beliefs (Smith, 2007). Others in the field, such as Pedler, Burgoyne and Boydell viewed learning organizations as an image of what might be achievable. Noting, it is not only education of individual members, but education takes place at all levels of the organization while it relentlessly transforms itself in the process (Smith, 2007). 2. What are three characteristics of a successful learning organization? Merriam et al. (2007), states a number of characteristics of a successful learning organization. Watkins and Marsick believed learning organizations were a little more boarder than Senge, outlining six characteristics referred to as “action imperatives”. They professed that these action imperatives were the catalyst to organizational success and sustainment (Merriam et al., 2007). However, in recent years, professionals have found a few other consistent traits of strong learning organizations. They include, but are not limited to: 1) candidness across boundaries – placing importance on evaluating the environment, teamwork and assessing the competition; 2) resiliency – how quickly people and system adapt to change; and 3) training resources – creating opportunities to obtain knowledge and to share expertise (Merriam et al., 2007). Practice
3. Which definition or description does your organization follow? (If you are not in an organization, which definition should an organization follow?) The organization in which I work provides “information at Internet speeds with available and emerging technologies such that any authorized user can connect to the network with the ability to produce or consume data and services anywhere on the network globally” (Defense Information Systems Agency, 2013, p. 9). As an organization responsible for information technology, it is of the utmost importance to be able to adapt to the ever changing environment of technology and globalization. Thus, my organization follows the definition of a learning organization as described by Senge. Meaning, my organization encourages its employees to pursue learning opportunities at all level, it fosters an environment of honesty, candidness and opened-mindedness to cultivate innovation and creativity; and places, a strong emphasis on a team building approaches to achieve its objectives. 4. What two or three organizational learning practices does your organization follow? Three of the primary learning practices my organization follows are systemic thinking, shared vision, and team learning. According to Malhotra (1996), these three practices fall within the generative learning theory. Generative learning, also known as “double-loop” learning, is all about viewing the world from a new and innovative perspective. It not only focuses on the achievement of goals, but how to capitalize from mistakes made during the process (Malhota, 1996). My organization encourages its employees to view things in wholes versus in parts....
References: U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency. (2013). Defense Information System Agency: Strategic Plan 2013-2018, version 1. Retrieved October 11, 2013, from http://www.disa.mil/~/media/Files/DISA/About/Strategic-Plan.pdf.
Malhotra, Y. (1996). Organizational learning and learning organizations: An overview. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from http://www.brint.com/papers/orglmg.htm.
Merriam, S. G., Baumgartner, L. M., & Caffarella, R. S. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Wiley.
Smith, M. K. (2001, 2007). “The learning organizations”, the encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved October 7, 2013 from, http://www.columbia.edu/~ds2016/digital_port/papers/orglearning1.htm.
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