Trends in Organizational Learning concept LO29388

From: Vana Prewitt (
Date: 10/24/02

Replying to LO29371 --

Dennis Rolleston brings up an important distinction for me when he

> >Like I said, I am factory floor. We are ISO accredited, have documented
> >90% of our transactional knowledge in Standard Operating procedure
> >format. Each document resides in a database and has a criticality rating
> >that determines the review frequency. We also have the process whereby
> >the users of the SOP have the ability to request a change to the
> >procedure for improvement, safety, environmental issues. We therefore
> >have the ability to collectively improve our product continuously. Our
> >customer is king!

The art of capturing explict, operational, transaction procedures is one
that has been finely polished since the early days of the industrial age.
It came into its prime during WWII and spawned many processes, including
Deming's concept of TQM (which by the way he taught to the Japanese who
used it to perfection to knock the socks off USA automobile
manufacturing). TQM was, as you know, an predecessor of our own concepts
of OL and LO. Continuous change, continuous learning, continuous
performance improvement (although that is not the only function of an LO).

What I've been searching is an organization that has systematically gone
beyond documenting procedures and explicit knowledge to trying to fully
capture and understand the stories, the myths, the legends that underlie
the organization's values and culture. What information is transferred and
how? What are the connections between WHAT an organization chooses to
retain in its organizational memory and the type of LO it can become?
Organizations, like people, have unique filters (mental models, frames,
call them what you want) they use to select stimuli for processing. The
information is further altered by the organization's history, perceptions,
biases, values. What emerges on the tail end as it becomes part of
organizational memory is socially constructed "reality" from that
organization's point of view. This is what interests me, not

An additional distinction for me is the difference between manufacturing
(the floor) and knowledge work as described by Drucker. The latter
incorporates a much faster rate of change, many more unique and
unpredictable decision making points, and demands greater adaptation,
flexibility, and efficiency in learning at an organizational level.
Given this, I'm not currently seeking industrial environments for my
research, but knowledge rich organizations (such as banking, insurance, or
R&D, engineering, etc).

Thank you Dennis, for sparking this train of thought. It is helpful for me
to try and explain my intent to others since it helps me get clearer about
my research.


Vana Prewitt


Vana Prewitt <>

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