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Currently viewing the tag: "Learning Organization"

Learning n Development

Survival of a business in this digital age largely depends on its ability to timely embrace Digital Transformation.  Digital Transformation entails using Digital Technologies to streamline business processes, culture, and customer experiences.

In order to compete today—and in future—and to enable Digital Transformation, organizations should work towards fostering a culture of continuous learning, since Digital Transformation depends on learning and innovation.  The organizations that holistically embrace this culture are called “Next-Generation Learning Organizations.”

The next generation of Learning Organizations capitalize on the following key variables; Humans, Machines, Timescales, and Scope.  These organizations incorporate technology in enabling dynamic learning.  Creating Next-Generation Learning Organizations demands reorganizing the entire enterprise to accomplish the following key functions to win in future:

  1. Learning on Multiple Timescales
  2. Man and Machine Integration
  3. Expanding the Ecosystem
  4. Continuous Learning

Learning on Multiple Timescales

Next-Generation Learning Organizations make the best use of their time.  They appreciate the objectives that can be realized in the short term and those that take long term to accomplish.  Learning quickly and in the short term is what many organizations are already doing, e.g., by using Artificial Intelligence, algorithms, or dynamic pricing.  Other learning variables that effect an organization gradually are also critical, e.g., changing social attitudes.

Man and Machine Integration

Rather than having people to design and control processes, Next-generation Learning Organizations employ intelligent machines that learn and adjust accordingly.  The role of people in such organizations keeps evolving to supplement intelligent machines.

Expanding the Ecosystem

The Next-generation Learning Organizations incorporate economic activities beyond their boundaries.  These organizations act like platform businesses that facilitate exchanges between consumers and producers by harnessing and creating large networks of users and resources available on demand.  These ecosystems are a valuable source for enhanced learning opportunities, rapid experimentation, access to larger data pools, and a wide network of suppliers.

Continuous Learning

Next-generation Learning Organizations make learning part and parcel of every function and process in their enterprise.  They adapt their vision and strategies based on the changing external environments, competition, and market; and extend learning to everything they do.

With the constantly-evolving technology landscape, organizations will require different capabilities and structures to sustain in future.  A majority of the organizations today are able to operate only in steady business settings.  Transforming these organizations into the Next-Generation Learning Organizations—that are able to effectively traverse the volatile economic environment, competitive landscapes, and unpredictable future—necessitates them to implement these 5 pillars of learning:

  1. Digital Transformation
  2. Human Cognition Improvement
  3. Man and Machine Relationship
  4. Expanded Ecosystems
  5. Management Innovation

1. Digital Transformation

Traditional organizations—that are dependent on structures and human involvement in decision making—use technology to simply execute a predesigned process repeatedly or to gain incremental improvements in their existing processes.  The Next-generation Learning Organizations (NLOs), in contrast, are governed by their aspiration to continuously seek knowledge by leveraging technology.   NLOs implement automation and autonomous decision-making across their businesses to learn at faster timescales.  They design autonomous systems by integrating multiple technologies and learning loops.

2. Human Cognition Improvement

NLOs understand AI’s edge at quickly analyzing correlations in complex data sets and are aware of the inadequacies that AI and machines have in terms of reasoning abilities.  They focus on the unique strengths of human cognition and assign people roles that add value—e.g., understanding causal relationships, drawing causal inference, counterfactual thinking, and creativity.  Design is the center of attention of these organizations and they utilize human imagination and creativity to generate new ideas and produce novel products.

3. Man and Machine Relationship

Next-generation Learning Organizations (NLOs) make the best use of humans and machines combined.  They utilize machines to recognize patterns in complex data and deploy people to decipher causal relationships and spark innovative thinking.  NLOs make humans and machines cooperate in innovative ways, and constantly revisit the deployment of resources, people, and technology on tasks based on their viability.

Interested in learning more about the other pillars of Learning?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Digital Transformation: Next-generation Learning Organization here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Learning n DevelopmentTransformation of an organization into a Next-generation Learning Organization (NLO) is a challenging endeavor.  The main hurdles include convoluted hierarchies, bureaucratic red tape, delayed decision making, and complicated organizational systems and processes.

To develop a learning organization, leadership needs to trim down bureaucracy and complexities.  They should make the best use of technology to gather holistic real-time data, deploy Artificial Intelligence at scale, and develop data-driven decision-making systems.

Five Core Pillars of Learning are essential for the creation of a Next-generation Learning Organization, including:

  1. Digital Transformation
  2. Human Cognition Improvement
  3. Man and Machine Relationship
  4. Expanded Ecosystems
  5. Management Innovation

Let’s take a deep dive into the first 3 Core Pillars.

1. Digital Transformation

The first pillar is Digital Transformation.  Next-generation Learning Organizations (NLOs) are characterized by their speed of learning and their adeptness to take action based on new insights.  They use emerging technologies to automate as well as “autonomize” their businesses, without relying too much on human intervention and decision-making.

By autonomizing, the NLOs enable machines to learn, take action, and evolve on their own based on continuous feedback.  They create integrated learning loops where information flows automatically from digital platforms into AI algorithms where it is mined in run-time to gather new insights.  The insights are passed to action systems for necessary action that create more data, which is again mined by AI, and the cycle continues, facilitating learning at fast pace.

2. Human Cognition Improvement

Next-generation Learning Organizations (NLOs) schedule time for their people to have unstructured reflection on their work.  While most organizations fear disruption of human work in future by AI and machines, NLOs assign unique roles to their people based on human cognition strengths—e.g., understanding relationships, drawing causal judgment, counterfactual thinking, and creativity.  These organizations are aware of AI’s advantage—in analyzing correlations in complex data promptly—as well as its shortcomings in terms of reasoning abilities and interpretation of social / economic trends.  NLOs make design the center of their attention and utilize human creativity and imagination to generate new ideas and produce novel products.  They assign roles accordingly, inspire imagination in people by exposing them to unfamiliar information, and inculcate dynamic collaboration.

3. Man and Machine Relationship

NLOs foster innovative ways to promote collaboration between people and machines.  They recognize that this helps them in better utilization of resources, maximize synergies, and learn dynamically.

To create effective collaboration between people and machines, NLOs develop robust human-machine interfaces.  The existing AI systems lack the ability to decipher everything, which is an area where humans excel.  NLOs supplement these shortcomings by setting up human-machine interfaces, where humans assist the AI by corroborating its actions and suggesting sound recommendations.  These learning organizations bifurcate responsibilities based on the risks involved, assign humans and machines appropriately against each job, and select a suitable level of generalization and sophistication between humans and machines.

Interested in learning more about the Core Pillars of Learning?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Next-generation Learning Organization: Core Pillars here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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design-learn-pattern-247819

Organizations need to persistently improve the way they do business to stay ahead of the curve. New ideas trigger organizational improvement and build the foundation of a Learning Organization.

Scholars have defined a Learning Organization in many different ways. Some suggest it as an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights. Marlene Fiol and Marjorie A. Lyles describe organizational learning as “the process of improving actions through better knowledge and understanding.” Barbara Levitt and James G. March define organizations as “Learning Organizations when they encode inferences from history into routines that guide behavior. Chris Argyris categorizes organizational learning as “a process of detecting and correcting error.” According to Peter Senge, “a Learning Organization is a group of people working together collectively to enhance their capacities to create results they care about.”

Being a Learning Organization offers several advantages. A perpetual influx of insights and new experience keeps the organization dynamic and ready for transformation; assists in better management of investments, improves efficiency; and helps in developing cost leadership and differentiation strategies. Learning Organizations tend to be more innovative by encouraging people to learn, develop, and by generating a more innovative environment. Shared learning builds the corporate image of the organization and increases the pace of change within the organization. Learning Organizations provide their people the ability to think insightfully about complex problems, take coordinated action, improve decision making, and instill a sense of community in them.

Despite efforts to improve continuously and creating new knowledge, organizations cannot simply become Learning Organizations. They employ various approaches but what they actually need is to become proficient in translating new knowledge into new ways of doing things, and actively managing the learning process so that it gets ingrained into the organizational culture.

Becoming a Learning Organization necessitates mastering 5 key activities. These 5 activities form the building blocks of a Learning Organization and should be integrated into the organizational core to transform your company into a Learning Organization.

  1. Systematic Problem Solving
  2. Experimentation
  3. Learning from Experience
  4. Learning from Others
  5. Knowledge Transfer
5 Building Blocks of a Learning Org

Applying these practices to some degree or in isolated cases isn’t enough. To ensure continued success, these practices should be complemented by distinct mindsets, support systems, and processes.

Let’s now discuss the first 3 building blocks in detail.

1. Systematic Problem Solving

Systematic problem solving is based on scientific methods for diagnosing problems, e.g., the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) cycle or “hypothesis-generating, hypothesis-testing.” The technique employs fact-based management, relying on concrete data instead of assumptions for making decisions and utilizes statistical tools—such as Pareto charts, histograms, correlation, and cause and effect diagrams—to consolidate data and draw conclusions.

For a real Learning Organization, people need to become more disciplined, pay more attention to detail, assess underlying causes, and analyze data before reaching decisions.

2. Experimentation

Experimentation involves systematic exploration and testing of new knowledge. Experimentation has 2 fundamental configurations; both forms transfer knowledge and yield new insights, capabilities, tools, techniques, and processes:

  1. Ongoing programs
  2. Demonstration Projects

Ongoing Programs

Ongoing programs entails a chain of small experiments aimed at yielding incremental gains in knowledge. These programs maintain a steady flow of new ideas by sending workforce on sabbaticals at different places to learn new work practices and tools from industry and academia, and applying that knowledge to their daily routines. Such programs foster risk taking and a feeling of “benefits of experimentation far outweigh the costs.”

Demonstration Projects

Demonstration projects are one of a kind, large-scale initiatives that include holistic system-wide transformation targeted at a single site. These projects are executed with a goal of developing new organizational capabilities using a “clean slate” approach.

Self-managing, multi-departmental teams; high level of employee autonomy; considerable “learning by doing;” course corrections; implicit policy guidelines, precedents, and decision rules are the key characteristics of demonstration projects.

3. Learning from Experience

Learning Organizations gain valuable knowledge from their past experiences, by doing an exhaustive and systematic appraisal of past successes and failures. However, not too many managers pay attention to past experiences or reflect on those, eventually losing valuable insights. To inculcate a culture of learning, lessons learned should be recorded and made readily accessible to all employees.

A handful of companies have laid out processes for their managers to contemplate on their past actions and incorporate those in their learning. At the core of this approach lies the belief that distinguishes productive failure from unproductive success. Productive failure delivers knowledge and understanding whereas unproductive success goes unnoticed where nobody knows what went well and why. Learning from experience approach isn’t that expensive—case studies and project reviews can be compiled with little cost.

Interested in learning more about the building blocks of a Learning Organization? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Learning Organization: 5 Building Blocks here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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You can download this and hundreds of other consulting frameworks and consulting training guides from the FlevyPro library.