Okay, what is a LO? LO22760

Richard Charles Holloway (learnshops@thresholds.com)
Tue, 28 Sep 1999 19:50:44 -0700

Replying to LO22756 --


your question prompted me to recall the following quote:

"Hip companies call themselves "learning organizations," a vague vogue
term for a corporate culture that cherishes continuous improvement--but in
1996, six years after Peter Senge's excellent book The Fifth Discipline
popularized the learning-organization concept, participants in a busy
Internet forum devoted to the subject engaged in a lively discussion about
the need to figure out what "learning organization" means."

The quote is from Thomas A. Stewart's "Intellectual Capital" published in

I believe your reason for asking the question is a good one, John.
Stewart wasn't criticizing the fact that people on this list (I'm certain
that it was this list he was referring to) were asking the question in
1996. He was merely pointing out that all of us continue to try to
understand and define the changes in our various organizations by using
labels that easily become vague and vogue.

I seem to recall this question being asked two or three times over the
last 3 years. I am comfortable with what I understand as your perspective
of organizations as potential learning systems. I do have some thoughts
to share.

I've become convinced of one thing during the last 3 years...and that is
that an organization can never learn unless the people in the organization
have access to and can use the experience or knowledge which was
discovered previously in the organization. Otherwise, the organization is
doomed to continue rediscovering knowledge when the knowledge gate-keepers
and/or the people who have the knowledge depart.

Organizational memory is absolutely critical to organizational learning.
Organizational memory is a way to capture the context of individual and
collective experiences, lessons learned, knowledge created, actions or
decisions that didn't work or that worked well. A memory is not useful
unless there is a viable means to access, improve and add to it, to
develop more context, more links between the patterns that are generated
over time. It seems to me that organizations who are making the effort to
generate an organizational central nervous system are the ones most likely
to become true learning organizations on a large scale. What intrigues me
is that organizations who are adopting KM practices are finding that their
change process includes adopting the practices and principles contained in
the five disciplines of the learning organization.



"If one has a new way of thinking, why not apply it wherever one's thought
leads to? It is certainly entertaining to let oneself do so, but it is also
often very illuminating and capable of leading to new and deep
insights." -Frank Oppenheimer

Richard Charles Holloway -
P.O. Box 2361, Olympia, WA 98507 USA Telephone 253.539.4014 or 206.568.7730
OutSights <http://www.outsights.com>

----- Original Message -----
From: John Gunkler <jgunkler@sprintmail.com>

Subject: Okay, what is a LO? LO22756

> So, for me (for now), what is takes to be a learning organization
> includes: (1) the organization learns (responds differently in the
> future, as an organization, as a result of its experience in the past);
> and (2) the organization learns how to learn.


"Richard Charles Holloway" <learnshops@thresholds.com>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <rkarash@karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>