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Self-learning organization: concept, creation and principles

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Self-learning organization: concept, creation and principles
Self-learning organization: concept, creation and principles

In the field of business management, a learning organization is a company that contributes to the development of its employees and is constantly transforming. The concept was created thanks to the work and research of Peter Senge and his colleagues.

Self-learning organizations evolve as a result of the pressures faced by modern companies and enable them to remain competitive in the business environment.


individual training

There are many definitions of a learning organization, as well as its typology. Peter Senge stated in an interview that this concept refers to a group of people working together to improve their capabilities and achieve the results they really need. Senge popularized the concept of learning organizations in his book The Fifth Discipline. In the work, he proposed the following.

Systems thinking

The concept of a learning organization evolved from a body of work called collective intelligence. This is exactly the basis that allows people to study business as a limited object.

Academic organizations use this method of thinking when assessing their company and have information systems that measure the performance of the enterprise as a whole and its various components. The systems mind argues that all characteristics must be immediately apparent in an organization for it to be learning. If some of these principles are missing, then the company will not achieve its goal.

However, O'Keeffe believes that the characteristics of a learning organization are factors that are gradually acquired, not developed simultaneously.

Personal Excellence

Study Options

This is the name of a person's commitment to the learning process. There is a competitive advantage for the organization - a workforce that can learn faster than the employees of other companies.

Learning is considered to be more than just getting information. It empowers you to be more productive by learning to apply all your skills to your work in the most valuable way. Personal mastery also manifests itself spiritually, such as the clarification of focus, personal vision, and the ability to objectively interpret reality.

Individual learning is acquired through staff training, development and continuous self-improvement. However, education cannot be forced on a person who is immune to it. Research shows that much of the on-the-job learning is peripheral and not the product of formal development. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the culture in whichpersonal skill is practiced in everyday life.

The concept of a learning organization has been described as a process of individual development. That is, it should have mechanisms for individual education, which are then translated into organizational learning. Personal excellence enables many positive outcomes such as self-efficacy, motivation, sense of responsibility, commitment, patience and focus on relevant issues, as well as work-life balance.

Mental models

These are the names of assumptions and generalizations that are important to individuals and organizations. Personal mental models describe what people may or may not detect. Due to selective surveillance, they are able to limit the supervision of employees.

To be a learning organization, these models must be precisely defined. People tend to stick to theories. Similarly, in organizations, they tend to have "memories" that retain certain behaviors, norms and values. When creating a learning environment, it is important to replace confrontational relationships with an open culture that promotes exploration and trust.

To achieve this goal, a learning organization needs mechanisms to define and evaluate action theories. Unwanted values ​​must be discarded in a process called "learning".

Wang and Ahmed call it "learning in three cycles". For organizations, problems arise when mental models develop below the levelawareness. Thus, it is important to study business issues and actively question current business practices before they become integrated into new projects.

Shared Vision

learning organization model

The development of this self-learning organization principle is important in motivating staff to learn, as it creates a common identity that provides focus and energy for education. The most successful visions are based on the individual principles of employees at all levels of the organization. Thus, the creation of a common point of view can be hindered by traditional structures where everything is imposed from above.

Learning organizations tend to have flat, decentralized corporate structures. The overall vision is often to do well against a competitor. However, Senge in The Self-Learning Organization states that these are temporary goals. And he suggests that there must be long-term principles inherent in the company.

The lack of a clearly defined goal can negatively impact an organization. Applying the practice of shared vision creates the right environment for developing trust through communication and collaboration within the organization. The resulting shared vision encourages participants to share their own experiences and opinions, thereby reinforcing the results of the organizational session.

Team training

The benefit of collective or collaborative development is that staff grows faster and the organization's problem-solving capacity improves throughaccess to knowledge and experience. Learning organizations have structures that facilitate group learning with features such as border crossing and openness.

In team meetings, participants can learn better from each other by focusing on listening, avoiding interruptions, showing interest and reacting. As a result of the practice of self-learning organization, people should not hide or ignore their differences. This is how they enrich their collective understanding.

Team learning at its best:

  • ability to think astutely on complex issues;
  • ability to take innovative, coordinated action;
  • the ability to create a network that allows other teams to do the same.

The team is focused on conveying both quiet and explicit information through the group and creating an environment where creativity can flourish. The team learns to think together.

Team learning is a process of adapting and developing the ability to create the results that its members really want. Collective education requires people to engage in dialogue and discussion, so team members must develop open communication with shared meaning and understanding.

One of the hallmarks of a learning organization is that it has excellent knowledge management structures to create, acquire, distribute, and infuse knowledge throughout the company. Team education requires discipline and routine. Collective development is only one element of the learning cycle. To circleclosed, it must include all five principles that are mentioned above.

This combination encourages organizations to move towards a more interconnected way of thinking. The company needs to become more like a community where employees can feel committed to a common cause.

What are the principles of a learning organization

Collective mind

Companies do not grow organically into educational institutions. There are certain factors that encourage them to change. As organizations grow, they lose their ability to learn as company structures and individual mindsets become rigid. When problems arise, the solutions offered are often short-term and reappear in the future.

To stay competitive, many organizations have restructured and there are fewer people in the company. This means that those who remain must work more efficiently. But in reality, to create a competitive advantage, companies must learn faster than their competitors and develop a culture of customer responsiveness.

Chris Argyris identified the need for organizations to maintain knowledge of new products and processes. And also to understand what is happening in the external environment, and create creative solutions using the knowledge and skills of all employees of the company. This requires cooperation between individuals and groups, free and reliable communication, and a culture of trust.


self-learning organization within a company

One of the main advantages that a training organization offers is a competitive feature. It can be based on various strategies obtained through collective learning.

One way to gain competitive advantage is strategic flexibility. The constant influx of new experience and knowledge keeps the organization dynamic and ready for change. In an ever-changing institutional environment, this can be a key driver of advantage.

Better organization management, investment and operational activities can also benefit a learning company.

The company's next competitive advantage can come from lower prices and better product quality. Through organizational learning, new strategies for managing costs and differentiation can be developed.

Other Benefits of a Learning Organization:

  • maintaining innovation and competitiveness;
  • increased efficiency;
  • availability of knowledge to better link resources to customer needs;
  • improving the quality of results at all levels;
  • correcting the corporate image by focusing on people;
  • increase in the pace of change in the organization;
  • strengthen the sense of community within the organization;
  • faster long-term decision making;
  • Improve knowledge sharing.


learning organization

Even in company withFor a self-learning organization, problems can slow down the development process or cause it to regress. Most of them arise due to the fact that the enterprise does not fully cover all the necessary aspects. Once these problems can be identified, work can begin to fix them.

Some organizations find it difficult to embrace personal excellence because as a concept it is intangible and the benefits are not quantified. Self-development can even be seen as a threat to the enterprise. And this is not just a theory, the problem is quite real, as P. Senge points out in The Self-Learning Organization. He writes that if people do not participate in the overall development, self-mastery can be used to promote their own personal visions. In some organizations, the lack of an educational culture can be a barrier to learning. An environment must be created where people can share knowledge without being devalued or ignored. The learning organization model must fully agree with the elimination of traditional hierarchical structures.

Resistance to development can arise within an organization if there is not enough participation at the individual level. This is common with people who feel threatened by change or feel they have something to lose. They are more likely to have a closed mind and do not want to interact with mental models. If learning is not carried out consistently throughout the organization, development can be seen as elitist and limited to the senior level. In this case education will notviewed as a shared vision. If learning is mandatory, then it can be seen as a form of control rather than personal development. Education and the pursuit of self-mastery should be an individual choice, so forced classes won't work.

Furthermore, as Peter Senge wrote, a self-learning organization, if large, can become an obstacle to internal knowledge sharing. When the number of employees exceeds 150, collective development is drastically reduced due to the higher complexity of the formal organizational structure, weaker employee relationships, lower trust, and less effective communication.

Thus, as the size of the organizational unit increases, the efficiency of internal knowledge flows sharply decreases.

Based on their study of attempts to reform the Swiss postal service, Matthias Finger and Silvia Bűrgin Brand provide a useful list of more important shortcomings in the learning organization concept. They conclude that it is not possible to transform a bureaucratic organization through learning initiatives alone. They believe the changes could have been made less threatening and more acceptable to the participants.

Problems when converting to an educational organization

team training

The book Dance of Change states that there are many reasons why an organization has trouble transforming itself into a learning company.

Firstly, the enterprise does not have enough time. The employees andmanagement, there may be other issues that take precedence over trying to change the culture of your organization. The team may not be able to allocate time if the institution does not provide appropriate assistance. For a company to change, it needs to know the steps it takes to solve the problems it faces. The solution may require a mentor or trainer who is well versed in the concept of learning organization.

Besides, the change may not suit the needs of the company. Time should be spent on the current issues of the organization and its day-to-day issues. To deal with this challenge, the strategy must be built correctly. An organization must determine what its problems are before embarking on a transformation. Learning must remain linked to business results so that it is easier for employees to link learning to day-to-day issues. These problems are highlighted based on examples of self-learning organizations in various countries.

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