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Posts tagged ‘Learning Capability’

What Is Your School’s Organizational Learning Capability?

No organization should be better at learning than the organizations that teach people how to learn. Therefore, it would follow that education should be the best organization in terms of learning ability of capability.

On this post (Innovation = Learning) on his blog, Keith Sawyer discusses an article in the Fall 2007 issue of Sloan Management Review, by Joaquín Alegre and Ricardo Chiva. They studied organizations high in organizational learning capability (OLC) and identified five core features of high OLC companies:

  • Experimentation
  • Risk taking
  • Interaction with the external environment
  • Dialogue
  • Participative decision making.

Keith shares some of his thoughts from his research on each of the five core features.

(1) Experimentation:
“Experimentation as defined by these authors, produces a flow of new ideas that challenge the established order.”

Does education tend to toward challenging the established order or supporting the established order?

(2) Risk taking:
“Risk taking is just what it sounds like: the tolerance for ambiguity and errors.  And as I’ve found, innovative organizations foster idea generation and tolerate failure.”

Does education posses a tolerance for ambiguity and errors. Does education foster idea generation and in what ways does it to do this. How about tolerating failure? Where does education fall on the spectrum or encouraging or discouraging ideas with the potential to fail?

(3) Interaction with the external environment:
“Interaction with the external environment is what I call “collaborating with customers” and is associated with innovative networks that I call collaborative webs in my book Group Genius.  Deborah Ancona, in her 2007 book X-Teams, has likewise discovered that successful teams have an outward focus, and strong social network ties with people outside of their team.”

Has education developed an outward focus? In what ways has education collaborated with its “customer base?” How has education fostered strong social networks with people outside of their classrooms, schools, and districts?

(4) Dialogue and (5) participative decision making:
“Dialogue and participative decision making are what I call improvisation–a style of communication and an organizational culture that is egalitarian, open to flows across status levels.  Improvisational organizations excel at a type of dialogue that opens up possibilities, a style of conversation in which new and unexpected ideas emerge.”

In what ways has education embraced dialogue and participative decision making? How could education benefit from a greater use of dialogue and participative decision making? Does education encourage idea sharing across job functions and management levels?

Keith concludes by saying, “I firmly believe that organizations high in learning ability are more likely to be innovative organizations, and I’m delighted to read of this fascinating study confirming the link.”

I too hope that education has developed a high learning ability because we need all the innovation we can get. I think the jury is still out whether we who are high in teaching ability are also high in learning ability. I would like to to think we are.

It also makes me wonder if we are giving students enough opportunities to experiment, take risks, interact with the external (outside of school) environment, dialogue, and participate in decision making. Certainly these skills are going to be necessary in the organizations that our students will one enter into, but shouldn’t they be necessary right now in our classrooms?



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