Byron's Babbles

Learning Organization

Learning-OrganizationLesson #23 in The Disciplined Leader by John M. Manning (2015) really hit home with me. In this lesson he gives us three pieces of advice:images

    1. Be open to other ideas.
    2. Admit when you’re not right.
    3. Involve others in your decisions.


What this really describes is a learning organization. Garvin (2000) defined the learning organization to be, “an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, interpreting, transferring, and retaining knowledge, and at purposefully modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights” (Garvin, 2000, p. 11). Learning in any organization must happen in three stages: acquiring, interpreting, and applying (Garvin, 2000). The premise is to have an environment with many different perspectives that encourages new approaches and provides psychological safety. Learning organizations that have constructive and helpful relations enable people to have dialogue, inquiry, and dissent. This allows for the formation of micro-communities, which act as an origin for knowledge creation.

Organizations that develop a high learning capacity demand a greater cognitive complexity from their members. Collaborative climates supporting inquiry, relationships, and self-reflection are critical for the forming of a learning organization. The complexity of the components of the learning organization make it difficult to put into practice. It really comes down to making sure all the individuals in the organization have the mindset of using the three keys previously mentioned from Manning (2015). One way I have found to combat this for myself is to practice a fostering of trust and reciprocity. Many times when I am pitching an idea I start with: “Tell me why this is a bad idea,” or “Tell me why I am wrong,” or “what am I missing?” This tells the team I am willing to listen to their opinions (and I truly am). I am amazed at how many times, great ideas have been developed from my stupid ones. Remember, it’s not about the win for you personally, but the WIN (What’s Important Now) for the organization and those you serve.



Garvin, D. A. (2000). Learning in action: A guide to putting the learning organization to work. Boston, MA: Harvard Business SchoolPress.

Manning, John (2015). The disciplined leader: keeping the focus on what really matters. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.


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