How to evaluate learning? LO14654

Scott Ellliott (
Mon, 11 Aug 1997 22:18:55 -0700

Replying to LO14612 --

Simone Maier wrote:

"The topic which is most important to me right now is the question, how to
evaluate learning processes. Not only in general but more specificly,
regarding their contribution to driving the organization towards an
environmentally more sound behaviour. The tough thing about it is the
question, how to relate mental and organizational (structural and
behavioural) processes to material and energetical performance (as a first
element, later to be broadened to an overall "sustainability

If I unsterstand the question correctly, it seems to raise some ethical
questions about learning organizations.

I think that learning and knowledge itself is amoral. It can be used
equally for "good and noble" purposes or for "evil". Excellent learning
processes alone will not drive an organization toward environmentally
sound behavior. However, if environementally sound behavior is a Goal of
the organization, then excellent learning processes can get it there much

There is also a timing aspect to this subject. if the goal of an
organization is to return the largest profit or grow in a short timeframe,
"smart" organizations will ignore environmental concerns and take the most
expedient path. If the horizon is much longer (say Maximize stockholder
value over 20 years), then the org. will learn that environmentally sound
policies are more sucessful in doing so.

In the end, you can only evaluate an organizations learning ability by how
successfully it achieves its goals. Some "dumb" orgs. may get lucky short
term, but luck does not hold out very long.

For an example, my employer (a very successful, long term company) has
learned that diversity in hiring and promotion is the best policy for
success; not because it makes the world a happier place, but because women
and minorities in non-traditional jobs bring astoundingly fresh ideas and

My two cents.

Best regards,
Scott Elliott


Scott Ellliott <>

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