Learning IT or Learning Organizations ? LO24436

From: Winfried Deijmann (deijmann@dialoog.net)
Date: 04/24/00

Replying to LO24418 --

Heisann Igal,
Hilsen fra Nederland i full blomst!

> I wonder what your opinions on the following may be:

> Organizational Learning involves many disciplines and many areas of
> work. However, IT has been one of the areas that many researchers and
> practitioners have pointed out as an important element in developing
> learning organizations.

> Is Organizational Learning and IT connected in any other ways than the
> fact that IT demands learning from users?

IT is related to organizational Learning as a skitrail (loype) is to
skiing (langrenn). Skiing is the main objective and the skitrail is a
means to make skiing easier and more convenient. But the skitrail doesn't
force the skier to follow the track.

What if this would be the other way around, that the skitrail is the main
objective, the skier is forced to use the skitrail and skiing is a means
to give the skitrail a purpose? Would you like that?

>In what way does IT in an organization affect learning?

IT affects learning in a negative sense, when IT is no longer treated as a
means but as a purpose in itself. IT not only demands learning (like
learning to ski properly before you are allowed to use the skitrails
without damaging them), IT also narrows a learner's scope on finding
alternatives. IT affects the creativity to diagnose problems and chose
alternative solutions because the IT- system demands you to follow
specific routines (trails). Again: IMHO it should be the other way around.

But the pressure from the IT sector itself is so high, that the focus is
almost entirely on good, better, best systems. The end-user is reduced as
a part of the system.

The amount of people on long term sick-leave (more than one year of
absence) here in Holland has reached the one million. The quest for more
spirituality on the workplace is sky high. Where does this all come from?

> Does IT automatically induce learning other things than IT usage? Is
> knowledge management something that an IT system really can create and
> support?

IT can support the transfer of information (bits and bytes), nothing more,
nothing less.

> Is it possible that IT is only an organizational "fad" that does not
> necessarily have the impacts on organizational learning that it is
> often assumed to have?

IT will - and has- already impact on organizational learning. The question
is: do we want the assumed impacts including the not intended ones?

It seems to me that the positive impact of IT for organizations
has been over estimated. Intended as IT was as a means to reduce
and order organizational complexity, it turns out to be the main
cause of it!
How was that possible and what is necessary to be done to get
things back in balance?

Here is the outline of a possible answer to these questions:

Organizational issues are experienced as complex, if the observations that
are made no longer can be explained with the present mental models in use.

I can explain this:

When managers talk about e.g. organizational complexity, they usually
exchange opinions. They exchange thoughts and assumptions, about the root
and cause of the complexity based on the mental models they have adopted.
More often than not, they also have their views on what should be done and
by whom, to manage the complexity. All these different mental models have
formed the complex reality in which we now live and will also determine
the world of tomorrow. We judge the world by the mental models in use. And
one of these mental models said: "IT is the solution".

But what the managers and IT consultants didn't ask themselves
was how their mental models underlying the solution were formed.
What they should have asked is this: "To what degree were our
judgments formed consciously and carefully?"
And what they should ask themselves today is: "Could we have
avoided this complexity if we had been more consciously and more
carefully in forming our opinions and expectations?"

In order to find answers, it is necessary to learn the inner
mental process of how we consciously arrive at a decision or, if
you prefer judgment or assessment.

I have a white paper in preparation in which I elaborate on the
issue of the significance of feeling in organizational complexity
and IT. The paper describes some mental orientations towards
Organizational Complexity and provides you with a set of basic
questions to order complexity.

If you and other listmembers would like to receive a copy in PDF
format drop me a line by email <deijmann@dialoog.net>.

Hadet godt!

Winfried Deijmann

Mr. Winfried M. Deijmann - Zutphen - The Netherlands
Artist, Consultant and Facilitator for Organizational Learning,
Leadership and Action Learning Events
Phone + Fax: +31-(0)575-522076
personal websites:
international: <http://dialoog.net/deijmann/djbservices.html>

Corporate website: HORIZONGROEP - BUNNIK - HOLLAND: <http://www.horizongroep.nl> corporate email: <deijmann@horizongroep.nl>

"An educated mind is useless without a focussed will and dangerous without a loving heart."

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