Which multinational companies are learning organizations LO29787

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 01/08/03

Replying to LO29772 --

Dear Organlearners,

Malcolm Burson <mburson@gwi.net> writes

>On December 23, Jon Benn wrote, in response to
>Julia (Kychua?)'s request,
>> I think G.E. fits the bill. And their work-out program
>> seems just the way to create a learning organization.
>After waiting to see if anyone else would take this up, and
>with some hesitation about (a) being oppositional; and (b)
>reviving a dormant thread on the list, I must respectfully disagree.
>Jon, while GE is frequently cited for its LO practices such as
>workout (for which see "The Dance of Change"), I remain
>convinced after many years of consideration that process,
>practice, and learning technology are not sufficient. If LO is to
>mean anything, then a learning organization's values and
>actions-in-the-world must be consistent with the underlying
>ethic (respect for difference; care for the systemic whole of
>the planet/universe and life, et al.) that I, for one, find running
>as a constant and vibrant stream through The Fifth Discipline
>and its successor volumes.
>And on this score, GE fails miserably. To cite but three examples,

Greetings dear Malcolm,

Thank you for an excellent answer.

I have read so often that GE is a LO that a couple of months ago i decided
to searh the web for more information.

Hundreds of sites report the "global village legend" that GE is a LO
when using
"learning organisation" "General Electric"
in Google's search engine. However, GE's own site
< http://www.ge.com >
has not a word on it being a LO! The closest it comes to a LO, and
that IMHO is still a mile off, is its Elfun project. See
< http://www.elfun.org >

I expect that should GE had been a LO, it would have had so much LO
experiences that it could not keep silence on them. When Jack Welsh claims
that GE has become a LO, that is but the dreaming of a CEO. But when the
majority of workers begin to tell how they function as a LO while millions
of clients report what pleasure it is to deal with GE, then it is another

GE certainly places a high premium on learning in its network of
organisations, but it makes none of them a "learning organisation" (two
words, but one concept) in the Sengian sense.

>LO is not just about practice, but outcomes; and even
>if we cannot agree on the precise ethical principles that
>should govern those outcomes, I'm willing to risk the
>assertion that there are some, and they are implicit in the
>value system which informs the discussion on this list.

I agree. Allow me to formulate it in terms of liveness ("becoming-being"),
one of the 7Es (seven essentialities of creativity). The practices form
the "becoming" and the outcomes form the "being". The one without the
other becomes a hollow pretention.

>But then, as always, I welcome the thoughts of those who
>see it differently.

The same here. But it seems that we agree on GE not being a LO nor
on the road to emerge into one.

>Malcolm Burson
>Director of Special Projects
>Maine Department of Environmental Protection

I would like it if you could share some of your thoughts with us about LOs
and Environmental Protection.

With care and best wishes,


At de Lange <amdelange@postino.up.ac.za> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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