Learning organization is a group of different organizations composed of professional businessmen whose aim is to seek major breakthroughs via partnership between researchers and practitioners. Guided by the questions presented in the book “The Fifth Discipline”, they have found that the guiding principles for action require basics shifts on how to think and interact. These changes not only go beyond individual corporate cultures and management but also penetrate to the foundation of beliefs and habits of our culture as a whole.
They also discovered that in order to move forward and achieve growth, one has to go through personal transformation. And the only safe place for this transformation is a learning community that requires hard work and commitment by its people. While exploring the basic shifts in the guiding ideas of present day management, it was found that the main dysfunctions in our society and establishment are fragmentation, competition and reactiveness which are actually the results and the side-effects of our success over years in conquering the physical world and in developing our scientific and industrial culture.
Since these dysfunctions are frozen patterns of thoughts, they should be addressed in order to alter how organizations operate. Fragmentation is one of the main dysfunction. In this stage, we tend to break and divide the problems we encountered into pieces, study each section or component in isolation, and then join or synthesize the components back into whole again. Actually, our fascination with fragmentation starts in early childhood. Even in school we were taught to study our subjects separately, memorize isolated facts and study abstract theories therefore eventually convincing us that knowledge is accumulated pieces of information.
Nowadays, fragmentation is the basis of what it means to be a professional or to be a specialist as in the cases of accountants, operation managers marketing managers and so forth. In the business aspect, fragmentation results to the different departments that are set-up with each different function. An example is the defense contracting industry. Defense contractor, also called military contractor, is a business organization or individual that supply products or services to the defense department of the government.
Products supplied are fragmentized into military aircrafts, ships, vehicles, weaponry and electronic system. Services supplied are fragmentized into logistic, technical support and training, and communication support. The personnel of the defense contractor are divided into different department with each special function. The managerial department runs the business, the accounting department handles the financial flow, the purchasing department ensures proper logistics of supplies and deliveries, and the sales department takes charge of sales and marketing.
Competition is the second main dysfunction of the society. If we look up the meaning of competition, it means rivalry which can serve as a motivation to strive harder. However, the problem is that people rely too much on competition that drove them not to cooperate with each other at times when cooperation is needed In business sector, we tend to compete with the very people with whom we need to pool resources with to the point that of covering up the problems that arise. The importance of competition to most of us makes looking good more important than being good which is one of the greatest enemies of learning.
This mentality also makes us “system blind”, wherein today’s problem come s from yesterday’s solution and many of today’s solution will be tomorrow’s problem. In the case of defense contractor, competition has become so stiff that they are forced to cost-cutting from the process of fabrication to manufacturing to marketing causing the quality of their products and services to suffer. Reactiveness is another hindrance to learning. We often change because of our reaction to outside forces which drives us to react to other’s direction and depend on other’s approval, thereby forgetting our objective in learning.
What people don’t know is that reactiveness prevents us from developing our own capacity for constant learning. In case problems arise, we call on specialist to fix the problem instead of tapping our own capabilities and resources. Reactive stance in management is apparent in the fixation on problem solving. Often management is viewed as problem-solving instead of creating something new to bring into being. This fact is evident by the way that most leaders believed that people are willing to change only in times of crisis, not knowing that this kind of change produces little learning.
In the defense contracting industry, reactiveness can be seen by the way the government got their supplies and equipment from military contractors. This is due to the fact through outsourcing they are guaranteed of high quality supplies and services at relatively low costs. Based on the given concepts and studies, we can therefore conclude that in building learning organization, we need to go all the way to the core of our culture and society, and that need to coordinate with one another to achieve our goal.
Aside from these, we can utilize the main dysfunctions of our society into an advantage by making the most of them in a positive way. Bibliography Kinicki A. and Kreitner, R. (2005). Organizational Behavior: Key Concepts, Skills, and Best Practices 2nd Ed. USA: McGraw-Hill. Kofman, F. and Senge, P. M. (2006). Communities of commitment: the heart of learning organizations. MIT Center for Organizational Learning. Retrieved November 20, 2008, from the MIT database. Nelson, D. L. and Quick, J. C. (2005). Organizational Behavior: Foundations, Reality, and Changes 5th Ed. USA: South-Western College Publishing.