Peter Senge put Learning Organisations on the map in 1990 with his book The Fifth Discipline.
It is a term that has been in fashion and now is less so. Nonetheless I don’t know any leaders who would dispute that being a learning organisation is a disadvantage.
Often people think that organisations can learn but organisations are made up of people.
And it is people who learn, not organisations.
Learning involves experiencing, reflecting, conceptualising and practicing*.
People do need an environment in which they can learn.
The leaders in an organisation create the environment.
The richest learning environments create more people who are learning.
More people learning create a stronger learning organisation.
Although many people quote Charles Darwin as saying ‘survival of the fittest’, what he actually said first was those who can adapt quickest to their local environment out live those who don’t. This can be applied to business as those companies who are able to adapt quickest are more sustainable than those who don’t.
Adaption implies learning.
So learning organisations are those that through the actions of their leaders create an environment which encourages their people to learn.
* See David Kolb’s experiential learning
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