Knowledge Management and TQM LO21865

Goad Edwin R (
Tue, 8 Jun 1999 10:07:05 -0500

Connecting onto LO21848 --

Mark W. McElroy wrote (in response to the question, "What indication do
we have that organizations really are learning?)

"In sum, all organizations are
learning organizations. If they weren't, then there'd be no such thing as
organizational knowledge. An organization without organizational
knowledge is no organization at all. We know, therefore we learn"

Dear Mark, et al.,

I like your thought and want to add this:

All organizations are learning organizations because all organizations are
made up of people - and people are learning organisms. Given that, I guess
I really question whether "organizations" can learn, or if there is such a
thing as "organizational knowledge". If so, it would imply that the
organization has a mind of its own - but where is it, in a database? This
reminds me of adds for companies that claim "we've been in business since
1843 and thus have 156 years of experience", and I'm thinking that in
reality they have people working there with less than 30 years experience,
and probably closer to 5 or less and nobody that knows how to process my
order. True knowledge & experience doesn't seem to me to be very
cumulative in reality. I think one reason for this is in the phenomenon of
"I want to (have to) learn it for myself". It occurred to me that in each
episode of life I learn things that I will not really need again - at
least not to the same extent. For example, after I have experienced my
kids going thru a stage of development, I will likely (hopefully) not need
this experience again. And furthermore, honestly, few are really going to
listen to my experience - they have to learn it for themselves. At this
point I decided the purpose of life, at the individual level, was not so
much a cumulative evolution towards perfect understanding, but the purpose
was in the mere act of having the experiences (learning). A personal

So I would define an organization as a system with a set of rules put in
place by individuals (usually a key individual near the "top"); and this
system is affected by the other systems which it is related to; and all of
this encourages or hinders, to some degree, the journey of learning which
each individual is on. Of course, the biggest factor is the attitude and
desire of the individual.

Thanks for the dialogue,
Ed Goad


Goad Edwin R <>

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