Intro -- Rhonda Habart LO26548

From: Malcolm Burson (
Date: 04/19/01

Replying to LO26534 --

On 4/18/01, Rhonda Habart wrote,

> I have recently been hired as the Learning & Development Coordinator for
>a ministry in provincial government. My mission - and I did choose it..*S*
> involves implementing our governments plan of turning our ministry into
> Learning Organizations. I have a lot of resources, however what I need is
> ideas for "questions" for and assessment from "employees" on where they
> see the organization and themselves with respect to Learning. I will be
> reviewing the "FieldbooK' this week, however, any and suggestions welcome.

I second Rick's "welcome," this time from someone in a public sector
organization. Those of us who have been part of this list for some time
have seen a number of similar introductions, and I have often wondered how
others like Rhonda have fared in their efforts. Considering this leads me
to offer the following humble observations for you to consider:

1. There is wide-spread consensus on the list that an explicit goal of
"turning our (organization) into a Learning Organization" is almost
certainly treacherous from the start. We are not agreed that any of us
have actually seen this happen, in the sense of a fully realized entity.
There is some agreement that _avoiding_ labeling our change efforts as
directed toward becoming an LO is helpful, conforming as it does to
Deming's caution against sloganeering.

2. Be prepared for a very lengthy effort with only minimal early success;
plan to learn from un-success.

3. There is much to be learned from the "Dance of Change" model that
suggests beginning your efforts in discrete practice fields / trial
efforts that allow you to test your approach without massive, top-down
driven change initiatives that will drive everyone crazy.

4. Finally, from your brother in a government ministry: be alert to the
reality that the real operational authority in your organization lies in
the hands of those whose attitude may be, "I was here before you came; and
I'll be here long after you're gone; and I've successfully resisted a long
run of management flavours-of-the-month." Build relationships with your
likely most resistant opponents by inquiring about their deepest
convictions and needs.

I could say more, I suspect, but will resist the temptation to preach.
As always, the comments of dissenters from these assertions will be
welcome to me. And Rhonda, count on me for continuing support.

Malcolm Burson
Director of Special Projects
Maine Department of Environmental Protection


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