Improvements, learning and change LO25876

From: Bill Harris (
Date: 01/14/01

Replying to LO25870 --

Peggy Stuart <> wrote:

> 1. The relationship between improvements, learning and change. It seems to
> me that you cannot have improvements of a product, service, product or
> system without some kind of change, and you would not have change without
> some kind of learning. If there is a strong relationship here, than to me
> the difference between a TQM organization., a high performance
> organization and a LO would basically be focus and maybe culture, at least
> on some dimensions. Does anyone have any thoughts or know of any research
> that has been done on this? (I did find an article that linked TQM to
> learning organizations - "The learning organization: motivating employees
> by integrating TQM philosophy in a supportive organizational culture" by
> Steven W. Pool. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 21/8 (2000)
> 373-378)

Having passed (about 10-15 years ago) through a Quality organization in a
company, I've begun thinking about these things (TQM, LO, ...) as a
foundation. An architect probably doesn't feature the foundation they
laid when they're talking about the wonderful new building they created,
but that building would be a pile of rubble if the foundation were weak.

In like manner, I think the good business organizations I've been
privileged to see have been focused on their purpose but have also been
quite competent at things we'd see as related to TQM or LO or ..., even if
they don't use the "correct" terminology. I seem to have the impression
that those companies more directly focused on TQM or LO or ... run a risk
of failure, as it's rare that customers will pay a company for their LO
results; they're more likely to pay for a product or service (although
ideas from LO's and TQM and ... may be necessary to create superior
products and services).

So, I think your connection is correct. I also think it would be risky to
conclude that a company, to be successful, should make LOs or TQM or ...
its primary focus.

I seem to recall Argyris writing somewhere that he doesn't go into
companies telling them how to improve communications; he goes in to help
them with their business problem. It's just that he usually or always
finds that communications issues are a fundamental component of those

By the way, thank you very much for the thorough timeline of the LO you
presented in another recent message.


Bill Harris                                  3217 102nd Place SE
Facilitated Systems                          Everett, WA 98208 USA               phone: +1 425 337-5541

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