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How Organizations Learn: The Capability Perspective

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  1. How Organizations Learn: The Capability Perspective MPA 8002 The Structure and Theory of Human Organization Richard M. Jacobs, OSA, Ph.D.

  2. Organizational life is not conducive to learning … …barriers to learning exist within the organization due to the fundamental, conflicting ways in which individuals have been trained and their subsequent interactions

  3. The concept... • the capability perspective …the process by which managers/leaders foster the development of behaviors which build an organizational culture characterized by learning

  4. learning is innate to all organizations; it represents a pluralistic view toward organizational learning …because there is no one best way for organizations to learn… …and the learning processes need to be embedded in the organization’s structure and culture

  5. management/leadership needs to understand what those learning process are―how, where, and what gets learned―and to expand the potential for the organization to learn …by considering how the learning styles within the organization conflict with or complement one another

  6. Developing an integrated learning strategy... • First step: to identify the organization’s predominant “learning style” • Second step: to develop a “learning portfolio” • Third step: to chart a corporate learning strategy that brings strategy and learning into alignment through a “learning charter”

  7. Developing an integrated learning strategy... • First step: to identify the organization’s predominant “learning style” …a learning style is an acquired capability which is a function of how an organization currently engages in learning …organizations have different learning styles that evolve and vary over time

  8. …organizations can be successful in using one or a set of learning styles …the “correct” learning style depends upon appropriate management/leadership, organizational strategy, market conditions, and performance demand

  9. Identifying an organization’s predominant learning style... Organizational Typology #3 Organizational Typology #4 Quadrant # _3_ Quadrant # _4_ LOR # ___ Quadrant # _1_ Quadrant # _2_ Organizational Typology #1 Organizational Typology #2 LOR # ___

  10. A thought experiment… Using LORs to identify predominant learning styles of organizations

  11. Example #1: Typical organizational learning styles LOR # 1 LOR # 5

  12. external knowledge source internal knowledge focus transformative incremental

  13. The organization learns because in some way experience does not match desire, so needed adjustments are made The organization learns by using its competence and capabilities to generate deliverables that transform the market The organization makes incremental changes or improvements to deliverables based upon knowledge acquired externally The organization acquires what has been learned by others and incorporates those learnings into its operations external adaptation acquisition knowledge source correction innovation internal knowledge focus incremental transformative

  14. Example #2: Learning styles and leadership roles LOR # 4 LOR # 3

  15. informal dissemination mode formal knowledge reserve personal public

  16. Learning is not imposed but acquired or shared through informal oftentimes subconscious means Learning occurs in a social context wherein the informal dissemination of knowledge fosters new, collaborative learning Knowledge developed over time that applies to everyone is documented and subsequently applied in order to pass on instructions or to avoid mistakes Individual possessing valuable knowledge and skills prescribe what is to be done informal rolemodel community of practice dissemination mode authorized expert hierarchical bureaucracy formal knowledge reserve personal public

  17. Example #3: Learning in for-profit organizations LOR # 2 LOR # 6

  18. Learning occurs as currently available knowledge is applied that improve organizational systems and delivery to the market Learning transpires as improvements to existing processes are envisioned, tested, and implemented Learning generates knowledge that applies existing technologies and processes in ways previously not considered Environmental scanning generates new knowledge that is then applied to current processes Honda Amazon.com process innovation discovery content-process focus incrementalism transformation Ford Walmart content value chain focus design/make market/deliver

  19. Example #4: Learning styles in a university LOR # 7 LOR # 9

  20. group learning focus individual learning time frame immediate long-term

  21. Learning occurs as the formal leader implements organizational strategy and responds to organizational realities Learning occurs as formal authority imposes its will upon organization Learning occurs through group interaction when individuals share a common interest Learning generates through group interaction where a variety of organizational interests are expressed and debated Faculty Board group collaboration democracy learningfocus autocracy administration Dean President individual learning time frame immediate long-term

  22. Example #5: Learning styles in health care LOR # 8 LOR # 9

  23. cognitive learning mode experiential learning time frame immediate long-term

  24. Learning occurs through group interaction as individuals advocate diverse interests Learning occurs as an individual possessing expertise responds to circumstances Learning occurs as experts possessing diverse interests formulate strategy to deal with challenges Learning generates through the interaction of experts where the focus is upon formulating strategy Surgeon General research hospital cognitive authoritative research learningmode reactive proactive emergency room National Instituteson Health experiential learning time frame immediate long-term

  25. Example #6: Learning styles in schools LOR # 7 LOR # 8

  26. group learning focus individual learning mode experiential cognitive

  27. Learning occurs as individuals investigate bodies of extant thought Learning occurs through group interaction as individuals engage in a collective experience Learning occurs as an individual possessing an interest tests one’s experiences of some content Learning occurs through the student interaction where the focus is upon discovery of pre-defined content Outward Bound Classroom group class trip projects learningfocus experiments research Trial/Error Independent Study individual learning mode experiential cognitive

  28. Management/Leadership Challenge... • Ask: What do intergroup conflicts tell me about the lack of organizational learning? …to expose the barriers to organizational learning

  29. Management/Leadership agenda... 1. identify the organization’s major learning styles 2. identify current and preferred organizational typologies

  30. Developing an integrated learning strategy... • Second step: to develop a “learning portfolio” …a set of learning styles possessing synergistic possibilities that build upon current strengths by utilizing two or three facilitating factors while concurrently enhancing current competencies by moving to some other point along the continuum of one or several of them

  31. …not a series of “correct” styles but complementary learning styles that function in concert to promote organizational learning …distinguishes what needs to be “unlearned,” that is, what organizational members know and do from how they know and do it, from generic best practices and established competence

  32. …identifies the starting point for an organizational development intervention …provides the direction for introducing new learning orientations and facilitating factors

  33. Management/Leadership Challenge... • Ask: What is the starting point for organizational learning? …to identify and to expose barriers to organizational learning

  34. Management/Leadership agenda... 1. identify the critical leverage points 2. select the phase of the learning cycle (acquisition, dissemination, utilization) that is most in question 3. utilize both individual skill development and group learning 4. engage teams in joint analyses of their underlying assumptions (“antecedents”) and to build new mental models (“frames” or “images”)

  35. Developing an integrated learning strategy... • Third step: to chart a corporate learning strategy that brings strategy and learning into alignment through a “learning charter” …represents a shared vision of a preferred future and how the organizational members will be stewards of that vision

  36. …the idea is to enroll numerous people in the learning effort before attempting to roll out a strategy to a large group or the entire organization …this creates an energized coalition that is more likely to educate itself and then to teach others

  37. Management/Leadership Challenge... • Ask: What needs to be done moving forward? …to formulate, to sell, and to implement an integrated learning strategy

  38. Management/Leadership Agenda... 1. develop multiple project champions 2. utilize benchmarking (external) 3. develop metrics using the experience as “learning” 4. “name the change” to define and promote the learning initiative 5. use education broadly to promote and support the quality effort

  39. The goal... • to enhance the factors that promote learning (i.e., the normative perspective and best practices) • to provide a mechanism for organizational change and the development of learning styles and capabilities (i.e., the developmental perspective) • to describe how learning will take place (i.e., the capability perspective and continuous learning)

  40. ` facilitating factors ` learning orientations ` building learning capability

  41. The learning organization… • the capacity or processes within an organization to maintain or improve based on experience… …by learning new skills, attitudes, values, and behaviors over time …so that the organization learns the challenges being presented by external adaptation and internal integration

  42. Management/Leadership Challenge... • Ask: What does the organizational need to know and to learn? …to distinguish unlearning what organizational members know and do from how they know and do it

  43. This module has focused on... The capability perspective ...the process by which organizations foster the development of those behaviors which result in recurring patterns of learning

  44. The next module will focus on... assessing and evaluating learning capability ...maintaining and improving team and organizational performance as the team(s) and organization learn from experience and the experience of others