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Learning Organizations

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Introduction Learning organizations is not a term familiar to many. The image that may appear in an individual’s mind when the term learning organization is mentioned may be that of a tutor, place of higher education, or even a church. While all of these could technically be defined as learning organizations, that is not the type of learning organization this paper explores. The learning organization literature that this paper explores is defined as the role of an institution in setting up a successful union of individuals to create learning to improve an individual and the institution as a whole (Calvert, Mobley, Marshall, 1994). This, of course, is a basic definition, and as the literature is explored, the reader quickly learns that learning organizations are as varied and diverse as the institutions within which they exist. The literature concerning learning organizations is also varied and diverse; ranging from simple, clear, and concise books and article to very detailed, in-depth, complex, and rigorous academic studies. Although the literature is exhaustive and at times overwhelming, by organizing the literature into common core areas, a reader can efficiently and effectively learn all there is to know about the learning organization, how to create a learning organization, and maintaining a successful learning organization. By thoroughly examining the literature in these three areas, an individual or institution will be able to thoroughly understand the entire scope of learning organizations. The common core areas that the majority of learning organization literature can be categorized into are foundation/founders of the concept, turning the theory into strong foundations, and learning organization application and evaluation.
Foundation/Founders of the Concept By beginning with the literature that introduced and defined the concept of what a learning organization is, who helped form, discern, decipher, and disseminate learning organizations, and by examining the era in which this concept was developed will help define exactly what learning organizations are, and the literature associated with the foundation of learning organizations will provide a great foundation for a review of current literature. The majority of literature considers the early 1990’s as the era in which the starting point of learning organizations began which began with the publication of Peter Senge’s, The Fifth Discipline, in 1990 (Dumaine, 1994). While Peter Senge is considered the father of learning organizations, and the majority of literature also refers to the founders of this concept or approach as Chris Agyris, Donald Schon, and Margaret Wheatley (Cors, 2003).
Organizational Learning’s Founding Father – Peter Senge The self described idealistic pragmatist, MIT senior lecturer, and corporate consultant Peter Senge was obsessed with not only changing the way corporate America learns but also changing the way the entire world learns regardless of the learning environment (Dumaine, 1994). With funding from FedEx, AT&T, Ford, and Motorola, Senge founded The Center for Organizational Learning at MIT to begin to research how to better facility learning within institutions (Cors, 2003). Although the idea for learning organizations has been around for quite sometime within academic realms, learning organizations garnered heavy attention when, based on his research at MIT, Peter Senge published the best-selling book The Fifth Discipline in 1990. Hence, Peter Senge is widely and undisputedly considered the father of modern learning organizations. The concepts that Senge presented were not by any means new concepts, but the way he organized the ideas and presented them in The Fifth Discipline was considered the point at which modern learning organizations began to form (Cors, 2003). The concepts presented in the book quickly gained widespread attention and garnered many positive reviews both from critics and institutions alike. The book covers many great concepts but mainly focuses on the benefits of continued learning, both learning as individuals alone and collectively as group, organization, or company (Senge, 1994). By proposing a five-step process, Senge opened the minds of many toward learning organizations, and he showed that learning organizations can provide a structured and effective way to learn for any institution regardless of the place, time, culture, or setting. The five steps of learning organizations.
By organizing the five steps in a clear and logical manner, Peter Senge successfully presented the necessary structure for individuals and organizations to develop a plan toward becoming a successful learning organization. While simply examining the five steps, one may not understand how such seemingly basic concepts can accomplish creating a potentially complex union of individuals with the goal of learning. Since the concepts seemed very vague, very few of the individuals and organizations that bought The Fifth Discipline actually read and implemented any of the concepts (Dumaine, 1994). Peter Senge quickly realized that individuals and organizations needed to condensed, workable version of the original book that kept the concepts in focus and the most important ideas highlighted. Hence, he developed The Fifth Discipline Field Book that presents the ideas and concepts in a fashion that is quickly absorbed by the reader, rapidly understood, and easily implemented. The five simple steps laid out in the field book are - 1.) Mental models – setting aside the old ways of thinking 2.) Personal mastery – learning to be open to new ideas and new individuals 3.) Systems thinking – fully understanding how an individual or origination works 4.) Shared vision – forming a plan with everyone’s input and agreement 5.) Team learning – working together to achieve the shared vision
In 1999, The Journal of Business Strategy named Peter Senge as one of twenty-four people who have had the greatest influence on business organization, strategy, and learning in the last century (Voss, 1999). Currently, Peter Senge retains his position at MIT as the Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Sustainability at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Also, he is the director of a consulting firm, Innovation Associates. He consults with corporate, government, and education institutions and leaders, and offers a Leadership and Mastery course helping institutions such as Procter & Gamble, Coca Cola, Kraft, Wells Fargo, and many others learn and implement the five steps of learning organizations.
More recently, in an article titled, Study of the Entrepreneurship in Universities as Learning Organization Based on the Senge Model, the authors credit Senge for the increase in entrepreneurship from the 1990’s until now (Nejad, Abbaszadeh, Hassani, & Bernousi, 2012). The authors of this article ascertain that the model developed by Senge not only helped create learning organizations that we know today, but his model also helped form the business structures of many successful entrepreneurs in the last two and a half decades. While the author’s do realize that this theory cannot be validated quantitatively, they do firmly believe that Senge and his learning organization has had a significant impact upon the entrepreneurship culture that thrives today (Nejad, Abbaszadeh, Hassani, & Bernousi, 2012).
Organizational Leadership’s Disseminating Pioneer – Chris Argyis By taking his experience as Professor Emeritus of Education and Organizational Behavior at Harvard’s Graduate School of Business, Chris Argyis built upon Peter Senge’s foundational research and made several significant contributions to the development of learning organizations. According to D. Abernathy in the article, A Chat With Chris Argyris, Chris Argyis’ most significant contribution to learning organizations was the theory of double-loop learning (Abernathy, 1999). Argyris’ idea of double-loop learning involves including challenges in the learning process as a second or double loop rather than single-loop learning which does not create challenge and is monotone and ordinary (Abernathy, 1999).
Double-loop learning. In the article, Good Communication That Blocks Learning, Argyris explains that not only is double-loop learning simply about creating challenges within learning organizations, but also double-loop learning is about how to successfully address and solve the challenges that arise within learning organizations (Argyris, 1994). Argyris suggest applying rigorous testing of not only the learning organization as a whole but also the individual learner to help solve challenges (Argyris, 1994). The rigorous testing will provide additional research opportunities, and the rigorous testing will provide clearer results when claims are tested beyond the average situation. By creating this second pass or loop of testing in order to create challenge within the learning organization, double-loop learning pushes learning organizations beyond the single-loop, standard, or mundane learning. Another way to look at how Argryis helped found learning organizations is through the lens of standard practices of traditional learning organizations. Generally, tactics such as micromanagement, long surveys, individualized learning, and focus groups are used to aid in learning, but often, these types of learning organizations lead to the creation of limited knowledge, experience, and learning opportunities (Argyris, 1994). While these learning types are sometimes useful, without incorporating the double-loop learning concept by creating questions that challenge the learning organization as a whole and challenge the individual learner, the learning organization will potentially not be as successful, thorough, or as challenging as it should be. Argyris continues the article by noting that in order for a learning organization to become successful, Argyris recommends staying away from the latest and greatest learning methodology or star player in the field of learning, but rather, take the parts of the learning organization that work and build upon, challenge, and focus on the working parts to create a more successful learning organization. By using this approach, Arguris states that this will create a stable platform of learning from which am effective learning organization can be built. By starting with the stable platform of learning and incorporating the double-loop learning concept, the learning organization will be challenged to improve and become more effective and successful.
Organizational Leadership’s Reflective Pioneer – Donald A. Schon
In 1983, Schon released his book The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. While Schon’s book is not considered the foundational book for learning organizations in literature, this book was released nearly ten years prior to Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline. However, Schon’s book did lay down tracks for Senge’s book to find its way to creating the foundation of organizational leadership.
Possibly due to his reflective and thoughtful manner, many of the contributions to organizational leadership made by Donald A. Schon are not attributed to him directly within literature; he nonetheless contributed much to the development and conceptualization of organizational leadership. L.J. Waks points out in the article Donald Schon's Philosophy of Design and Design Education, Schon is best known for being somewhat opposed to the double-loop learning of Argyis; leading to the development of reflective practice and learning systems within learning organizations (Waks, 2001). Although, many of his contributions to the theory and establishment of learning organizations come from the works that he authored alongside Chris Argyris as the two authors were able to set up a learning organization of their own to sort out each of their differing theories and boil those theories down to what worked and what did not work (Waks, 2001). Two of the more notable works these two founders of learning organizations wrote together were Theory in Practice and Organizational Learning.
Reflection in action.
Schon’s book, The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action, breaks down his ideas concerning learning organizations into four main compartments. The four main compartments are based on Schon’s theory of “reflection in action”. The theory of reflection in action is when a leader, learner, or organization allows himself or herself to experience confusion and insecurity in a nonthreatening, respectful, and organized way (Schon, 1983). The four main compartments of Schon’s theories include learning organizations practicing learning, creating a new language within the learning organization that did not previously exist within the institution, learning to maintain reflection in action regardless of the conflict or success that may come, and teaching not only the learner to reflect in action but also the teacher or leader to reflect in action (Schon, 1983).
Reviewing Schon’s book reveals the theories and thoughts that both Senge and Argyris used are based on pulling some of their personal organizational learning theories out of Schon’s work; hence, both Senge and Arguris have a form of reflection in action within their literature related to learning organization. Even more so, this common theme runs among the literature of the pioneers of learning organizations, and this theme helps create a common thread, which ties the entire concept and foundation of the learning organizations together.
In a 2009 review of Donald A. Schon’s work The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action, Mark Cameron reviews the contributions that Schon made to learning organizations and applies Schon’s contributions to current issues. Even though authors generally attribute the reflection in action theory as Schon’s major contribution, as it applies to today’s learning organizations, Mark Cameron sees that theory as just a small part of what Schon conceptualized concerning learning organizations (Cameron, 2009). Cameron considers the reflection in action theory now commonplace in the realm of learning organizations, and he states that today “we have taken the least controversial aspect of the theories presented in this work and ignored the larger surrounding hypothese. As such, it constituted a critical reconsideration of the fundamental assumption underlying professional practice (Cameron, 2009).” Cameron continues the article by relating today’s reflection in action as status quo, and in the place of reflection in action, learning organizations should rather challenge themselves by incorporating new technology and simulations into the learning organization the way that Argyris recommended.
Organizational Leadership’s Progressive Pioneer – Margaret Wheatley
Just as with Senge, Argyris, and Schon, Margaret Wheatley produced ideas that are credited as being part of the foundational literature for learning organizations. In 1992 (with a revisions made in 1994), her book Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World was initially published. In the book, Wheatley expounds upon the theory of learning organizations through completely different lenses than the other founders of learning organizations. Her literature is written through the lens of the chaos, uncertainty, and challenges that naturally occur within learning organizations. By taking these items and addressing them, Wheatley’s literature came from a perspective that none of the other founders of learning organizations worked through.
Seven core ideas.
In her book Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, Wheatley challenges learners and leaders within learning organizations to push through the unusual boundaries of the status quo in learning organizations and embrace the chaos, uncertainty, and challenges that arise (Wheatley, 1999). The seven areas Wheatley created were intended to keep the learning organization focused on creating structure from the chaos, stability from uncertainty, and victories from challenges. Wheatley emphasizes that chaos, uncertainty, and challenges arise naturally, and an institution or individual within the learning organization should not artificially manufacture these characteristics of learning organizations. In order to successfully navigate these areas, Wheatley gives seven core or foundational thoughts that a learning organization must address as part of the foundation. Wheatley’s seven core ideas are – 1.) Learning within an organization requires creativity and challenge. 2.) Successful learning creates structure out of chaos not chaos out of structure. 3.) Learning organizations are not necessarily finding out what the correct answer is but rather what works best to create success. 4.) When chaos is turned into structure by a learning organization, the outcomes become endless usually resulting in success. 5.) Just like children, learning organizations crave structure. 6.) Developing and maintaining an identity is important for a learning organization. 7.) Structure from chaos requires all elements of the learning organization to actively and positively participate.
Aside from Wheatley’s seven core principles, perhaps her most well known contribution to learning organizations is the way she was able to eloquently explain learning organizations in a way that most could easily relate. In her book, Wheatley explains learning organizations in the following way –
Once we recognize that organizations are webs, there is much we can learn about organizational change just from spider webs. Most of us have had the experience of touching a spider web, feeling its resiliency, noticing how slight pressure in one are jiggles the entire web. If a web breaks, the spider doesn’t cut out a piece, terminate it, or alter the entire web. She reweaves it, using the silken relationships that are already there, creating stronger connections across the weakened spaces. After all these years of denying the fact that we are humans, vulnerable to the same dynamics that swirl in all life, we are being called to encounter one another in the messiness that names us as alive. (Wheatley, 1999)
Lotte Darso wrote about her 2008 interview with Margaret Wheatley. In the article Lotte Darso noted that Margaret Wheatley, during the interview, emphasized her focused was to enhance the development and artfulness of learning organizations rather than the chaos, uncertainty, and challenges of the learning organizations (Darso, 2008). Margaret Wheatley feels that “in the field of management development and education, organizations are trying to educate people to be technicians rather than leaders; that they are giving people a lot of metrics and formulas (Darso, 2008).” Darso continues to write that Wheatley stressed that these metrics and formulas cannot express the needs that need to be met in order to invigorate and entice today’s learning organizations to create the leadership needed for the future. Darso’s interview concludes with Margaret Wheatley emphasizing that for learning organizations to truly succeed there must be a challenge created within the learning organization to push the learner and leader beyond the realm of rationalism without becoming irrational.
Turning Theory Into Strong Foundations Due to the foundational literature of learning organizations being written mostly by academics, as learning organization literature beyond that of the founders is reviewed the theory aspect of this learning system generally comes from the academic realm. Fortunately, there has been enough time between the foundational theory literature of learning organizations being put into writing and now, that many have tried to use this theory to create and improve learning organizations across the world, and many have written about their experiences. By examining the literature that has been written about turning the theory of learning organizations into real world action, one can quickly learning how learning organizations have evolved and morphed into the modern learning organization.
Building a learning organization Just as learning organizations where starting to come into existence, David Garvin wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review that examines how to successfully setup a learning organization. While Garvin clearly understood that learning organizations were in their infancy, he acknowledges that each institution will have their unique way of setting up or customizing a learning organization; however, he recommends specific areas that should be address by each institution as the attempt is made to setup a successful learning organization within the institution. The three M’s. Garvin recommends that every learning organization begin by addressing three critical areas: meaning, management, and measurement (Garvin, 1993). Garvin goes on to explain that first, the institution needs to examine and understand the meaning of the learning organization as a well though out, easy to understand entity. Then, based on that understanding of the meaning of learning organization, create a purpose statement. The application of that statement will create forward movement to begin the process of starting a learning organization. Second, Garvin writes that management needs to define and dictate in a clear manner the guidelines and practices of the organizations. These guidelines and practices of the learning organization should be in written form that is easily accessible by all within the learning organization. Finally, Garvin’s last m is the way that the learning organization is going to measure the success of the learning needs to be established. Each institution must individually determine what the measurement factors will be for the learning organization and track those measurement factors continuously. By effectively and purposefully defining these areas to start, Garvin states that the institution is ready to move on to setting up the learning organization’s activities. Five learning skills. After the foundation of Garvin’s three m’s are in place for the learning organization, Garvin states that the learning organization must incorporate five additional learning skills into the learning organization in order to ensure success. The five learning skills that Garvin points out in his article are systematic problem solving, trying new learning tactics, using past experience and successes as learning tools, identifying and using methods that have worked for others, and ensuring that knowledge is passed to the learner in an efficient yet appropriate fashion (Garvin, 1993). Garvin goes on to explain that some of these five additional learning skills will naturally arise within the learning organization, he notes that some of these five learning skills will need to be created by the leadership within the learning organization. With a combination of the three foundational m’s and the five learning skills, Gavin writes that the building of any learning organization will see slow but steady improvement on the way to becoming successful.
Leadership and beliefs work In his article, The Power of a Learning Community: Implications For Leadership Practices and Beliefs in a Learning Organization, Timothy D. Kanold writes that he believes that the successes of learning organizations are determined by how the foundations are laid. Just as Garvin had three foundational areas that he thought were key to a learning organization’s success, Kanold has two areas that he believes are key to the success of a learning organization. The two areas are effective leadership practices and the beliefs associated with a learning organization (Kanold, 2002). Leadership practices. Leadership practices are essential to the foundation of a learning organization. According to Kanold, leadership practices include continuous improvement, shared vision, collaboration, and individual growth and improvement (Kanold, 2002). These four areas in conjunction with the foundation of leadership practices give rise to learning organizations that create not only successful learners but also successful leaders. Therefore, not only will successful learning take place in the area that the learning organization is focusing its efforts, but also leadership learning will occur. This will make the learning organization more valuable to an institution as future leaders are trained indirectly through the great foundation of the learning organization. Associated beliefs. While Kanold emphasizes that the leadership of a learning organization is important, he also writes that a foundational key to building successful learning organization is the associated beliefs. Kanold conceptualized that the leadership within learning organizations must maintain a clear focus of the reasons or associated beliefs that lead an institution to create learning organizations (Kanold, 2002). Generally, Kanold notes, to grow, improve, change, and challenge the learner is the primary goal of a learning organization, and the leadership of the learning organization should use these goals or associated beliefs as a foundational part of the learning organization.
Practice makes perfect Building upon putting theory into practice, the article Practice Makes Perfect: Putting Learning To Use In Today’s Organizations, the authors remind institutions of one key fact when putting learning organization theory to practice. The successful learning organization will always ensure what has been learning in the foundational steps is put into practice (Holland, Firsht, & Wickes, 2003). The author’s of this article write that the connections between the use and the effectiveness of a learning organization and putting that learning to practice is key for the learning organization to be truly successful. The institution’s intention for the learning organization looses its purpose and becomes wasted if the foundational learning is not traced and ensured that the learner puts the learning to practice. Once the learner starts to put the learned behavior into practice, the learning organization can start to building upward from the foundational level. The learners will start to come back to the learning organization with feedback on what is working and what is not working. This feedback will allow the learning organization to modify old ideas and try new methods or ideas to encourage the upward movement of the learning organization from the foundation (Holland, Firsht, & Wickes, 2003).
A moral foundation Robin Stanley Snell focused on an area that no other literature focused – the moral foundations of the learning organization. In her article Moral Foundations of the Learning Organization, Snell seeks to show how ten different areas are approached concerning morality within the foundations of learning organizations. These ten areas are needed within the learning organization to overcome the problems of “human defensiveness, limited moral reasoning capacity, and fragmented moral terrain (Robin, 2001). Snell starts the article by explaining the characteristics that are necessary to build a strong foundation for a learning organization aside from the moral aspect. The areas that Snell characterizes as necessary for a foundation of a learning organization are very similar to Garvin and Kanold’s ideas: free exchange of ideas, using experience as a learning tool, continuous improvement, leadership, open and honest communication, continuous transformation. By starting with the areas, the learning organization can then begin to focus on the moral side to ensure a successful foundation.
In addition to these ideas, Snell writes that there are ten moral areas that learning organizations must continually focus on in order to ensure the continued validity of the foundation upon which the learning organization is built. Snell realizes that many of these items have been addressed previously by the founding literature of learning organizations, but she feels that there needs to be a collective focus on the moral components of the learning organization which was not directly addressed by the foundational literature. The ten areas that Snell concentrates on are 1.) Free and open exchange of ideas while ensuring that accountability and ethics are kept in focus. Snell states that this will build teamwork and relatable learning into the learning organization. 2.) Leaders should not use power to try to reinforce learning. This, according to Snell, will only create barriers to learning. 3.) The main focus of the learning organization is to collectively improve the institution as a whole for the benefit of the stakeholders. Snell writes that keeping this goal in focus will enhance the learning. 4.) Based on area number three, learning organizations should remain open to ideas and criticism from stakeholders and be careful not to become defensive when ideas are brought forth. Snell points out that acknowledging these ideas from stakeholders will not only improve the institution’s relationship with the stakeholder but also the learning organization will improve by learning to accept new ideas. 5.) Leaders will cause the learning organization’s foundations to crumble if the leaders are not willing to readily and humbly admit any errors, mistakes, or shortcomings. Even though it is difficult for mistakes to be address, Snell writes that this is imperative to ensure no barriers are created within the learning organization. 6.) Freedom of speech and other civil liberties are not only legally required, but they are also necessary for the building of a strong foundation. Snell points out that there is a very fine line between using open and honest speech, and the point at which the speech becomes offensive and potentially puts jobs and institutions in jeopardy. 7.) The dialogue within learning organizations should remain focused on the learning at hand. According to Snell, this may sound traditionalistic in nature, but certain traditions are necessary to carry forward while others require change. This is one area that needs to remain the same. 8.) While learning and transformation are the main focus of a learning organization, the learning organization must remember that learning cannot be delivered in a strict and authoritarian fashion. Snell points out that it must be delivered with compassion in order to avoid creating unnecessary stress for the learner. 9.) The leaders and the learning organization as a whole must be cognizant of any learners who encounter difficulties in the learning process. It is key, as Snell writes, that the learning organization, both leaders and learners, are quick to help and support any learner combating difficulties. 10.) The learning relationships created within learning organizations require critical trust and transparency.
Learning Organization Application and Evaluation Many years have passed since Peter Senge, Chris Agyris, Donald Schon, and Margaret Wheatley created the foundation of learning organizations. Through those years, time has allowed for the application of the principles layout by the pioneers to be applied and evaluated. Many reviews have been writing concerning the application and evaluation of learning organizations.
Organizational learning theory and applied practice Ellyn R. Lyle, PHD of the University of Prince Edward Island has a thorough and clear understanding of organization learning theory and applied practice. In her 2012 article, Learning Organization (AL) Learning, she discusses the past integration of organizational learning, the current and emerging trends, and the direction in which learning organizations are headed. She takes the approach concerning organizational learning theory and applied practice of what worked, what is currently working, and what will most likely work in the future. What worked as a foundation. Lyle writes that it is important to examine the foundations of learning organizations because those foundations will lead to a better understanding of the learning organizations of today as well as the learning organizations of the future. After a thorough review of the foundational literature, Lyle came up with three common characteristics associated with the foundations of learning organizations: 1.) “It developed both individual and collective knowledge; 2.) It used learning to improve performance and boost competitive advantage; and 3.) It continuously enhanced its capacity, through reflexive praxis, to adapt to its external environment (Lyle, 2012).”
From Lyle’s perspective, by ensuring these three concepts are included in a learning organization’s structure, the foundation is sure to be strong.
What is currently working. Undeniably, both the business and the everyday world have significantly changed since the early 1990’s when learning organizations where developed and became widespread. One major area in which the world has changed is the speed at which business is done. The seemingly faster speed at which business is conducted is commonly known as globalization (Stewart, 2001). The globalization of business has led to customers not only simply wanting to purchase individual products, but the customer also requires competitive service and performance; hence, this has required learning organizations to become faster and more effective in innovation, place higher value on employees and their skills, and maintain a high and constant level of learning that not only engages the leaders and the learners but also challenges them to become more productive through learning organizations (Lyle, 2012). What will work in the future. Lyle effectively points out the competitive nature of globalization continues to increase in turn causing learning organizations to become more efficient and more effective. She states, “The emergent learning organization, influenced by both theoretic ideals and practical experience, is a system that promotes the continual learning and development of its individual members and then leverages that collective learning for the overall improved performance…(Lyle, 2012).” Using this thought process, Lyle is convinced that businesses will be able to effectively take control of the learning organizations and continue to improve the opportunities to stay ahead in the fast paced environment of today’s and the future’s world marketplace.
Learning organization critiqued Just as Ellyn R. Lyle walked through the theory and application of learning organizations that worked, Raymond Caldwell of Birkbeck College at the University of London critiques the learning organizations theory and applied practices. In his article Systems Thinking, Organizational Change and Agency: A Practice Theory Critique of Senge’s Learning Organization focuses on one area of learning organizations. He focused on what he calls the “heart of the learning organization – systems thinking (Caldwell, 2012).” Caldwell argues that there have been far too few critical reviews of learning organizations, and he seems to think that such critiques of the literature will not only improve learning organization, but the critiques will also challenge new thinkers to raise new and more powerful ideas. Systems thinking flawed. According to Caldwell, the term systems thinking is the inspiration behind Peter Senge’s extremely prominent thinking and theory concerning learning organizations. Caldwell argues that the flaw arises in the fact Senge did not seek to interpret or characterize the social and cultural aspects of learning organizations. By pointing out that the social and cultural aspect of learning organizations had not been thoroughly explored by the individual whom may attribute the founding of learning organizations, the theory behind systems thinking as part of Senge’s learning organizations may have serious implications (Bui & Baruch, 2010). In Caldwell’s opinion, in the time that has passed since Senge’s original theory concerning learning organizations was published, there has failed to be the promised changes in organizations that Senge might have thought would happen. Reasons for the flaws. There are two major reasons that Caldwell lists in his argument proving that learning organizations at their foundation are flawed. First, the main foundation of learning organizations is structure, and this structure cannot easily process or digest changes or challenges to the structure in order to adequately adapt itself to continue to be opportune and successful. Caldwell truly feels that this leads to a lack of emotion or humanity within learning organizations. Senge’s foundational structure seems to emphasis digits and diagrams, and misses out on the more passionate and or sensitive side of the human being and learning. Including more of a practice and probing based structure to learning organizations will allow the learning organizations to evolve and stay relevant and successful (Caldwell, 2012).
Second, Caldwell states that Senge’s foundational elements are flawed because the elements do not show how or when the learning actually occurs. While it is clear by the success of learning organizations across the world that learning does occur, there is no measure of at what point the learning begins and ends (Ortenblad, 2007). By not being able to measure at what point the learning occurs, an institution or individual may not be able to quantify the results necessary to see the benefit of creating learning organizations within the institution (Caldwell, 2012).
Solutions for the flaws.
“Unfortunately, few real world [learning] organizational problems are reducible to the functionalist-prescriptive properties of systems. Instead the stem-thinking assumptions that link feedback, archetypes and organizational change to processes of learning should become the intent of learning organizations (Caldwell, 2012).” Caldwell goes on to explain that including extensive feedback in the structure of the learning organization will allow for the learning organization to challenge and characterize itself within an organization. Also, by ensuring that both positive and negative feedback are accepted and encouraged within the learning organization, the behavior of the learning organization will morph itself into a learning organization that is effective and relevant.
Conclusion and Recommendations Reading literature concerning learning organizations can be complex and overwhelming at first glance, but when each piece of literature is categorized into one of three groups, the literature becomes insightful and enjoyable. The literature pertaining to learning organizations can be placed into one of three categories: foundation/founders of the concept, turning the theory into strong foundations, and learning organization application and evaluation. Each piece of literature generally fits neatly into one of these three areas, and breaking down the literature into neat categories helps the reviewer become more informed than just taking a scattergun approach. There is a great need for literature that quantifies the success of learning organizations. Little to no literature exists that should in a quantified manner how learning organizations have succeeded. A researcher needs to follow several institutions in which the successes and failures are quantified. Combining this information with the literature that gives specific successes and failures would greatly help institutions understand the value of a successful learning organization.

References
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