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"Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow."
Anthony J. D'Angelo, The College Blue Book

It was Peter Senge’s 1990 book The Fifth Discipline that first popularised the concept of the ‘learning organisation'. More than a decade later the conjecture as to what constitutes a learning organisation continues and consensus on its definition has still to be clearly established.

Senge's definition of a learning organisation:

"Learning organisations are organisations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together."

The pages of the encyclopedia of informal education provide a fantastic introduction to the thinkers and concepts of a learning organisation.

Developing a Corporate Learning Strategy
What benefit does your organisation derive from training and development? Do they contribute to key business objectives such as winning new business? Does anyone actually know how much is being spent on them? Is anyone happy with the methods used to evaluate outcomes? If all existing courses were closed down would customers notice or care?
Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas

Learning to Improve performance (pdf 180 kb)
When it comes to interpersonal skills training, the challenge virtually every organisation faces today is how to navigate among the new as well as the existing training options and select the combination that will improve employee performance, and, ultimately deliver business results...
Achieve Global

Strategic Resourcing of training and Development (pdf 74 kb)
Outsourcing, or strategic resourcing, is becoming a widely used tool to boost an organisations competitiveness. It is no longer a short-term measure associated with downsizing. Instead, today's organisations view outsourcing as part of a planned strategy that enables them to focus on what they do best, while benefiting from outside expertise in areas that are not their strengths...
Achieve Global

The Knowledge Entrepreneur
Many management teams are missing exciting opportunities to transform corporate performance by better exploiting know-how and using job support tools to boost productivity. They are also forgoing unprecedented possibilities for generating additional revenues from new knowledge-based offerings...
Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas

Using Job Support Tools: To Improve Quality, Raise Productivity and Increase Performance

Job support tools are designed to increase workgroup productivity and corporate performance by helping people to do a better job. Devices such as traffic lighting can be used to prevent people from progressing along a course of action if data entered is incomplete or suggests a possible risk. Colin Coulson-Thomas discusses how organisations are using job support tools to improve their performance...
Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas

Further reading

The Sixth Sense: Accelerating Organisational Learning with Scenarios

The Sixth Sense: Accelerating Organisational Learning with Scenarios
Kees Van der Heijden, Ron Bradfield, George Burt, George Cairns, George Wright
This book helps managers move beyond the idea that the future of business will resemble the past and allows them to use scenarios to imagine multiple perspectives. The concepts of organizational realities, experience, and beliefs are explored to encourage and embrace change in business organizations for a successful future.
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The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization
Peter M. Senge

The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization

Peter Senge, founder of the Centre for Organisational Learning at MIT's Sloan School of Management, experienced an epiphany while meditating one morning back in the fall of 1987. That was the day he first saw the possibilities of a "learning organisation" that used "systems thinking" as the primary tenet of a revolutionary management philosophy. He advanced the concept into this primer, originally released in 1990, written for those interested in integrating his philosophy into their corporate culture.

The Fifth Discipline has turned many readers into true believers; it remains the ideal introduction to Senge's carefully integrated corporate framework, which is structured around "personal mastery", "mental models", "shared vision", and "team learning". Using ideas that originate in fields from science to spirituality, Senge explains why the learning organisation matters, provides an unvarnished summary of his management principals, offers some basic tools for practising it, and shows what it's like to operate under this system. The book's concepts remain stimulating and relevant as ever.

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Rethinking the Fifth Discipline: Learning Within the Unknowable
Robert L. Flood

Rethinking the Fifth Discipline: Learning Within the Unknowable

This text presents an approach to management that has attained position on the International Hall of Fame, and explains and critiques the ideas in straight forward terms. The book aims to make fundamental improvements to the core discipline of systemic thinking. It establishes crucial developments in this area in the context of the learning organization, including creativity and organizational transformation. It is therefore a text for strategic planners, organizational change agents and consultants. Key features of this work include a review and critique of "The Fifth Discipline" and systemic thinking, and an introduction to the gurus of systemic thinking - Senge, Bertalanffy, Beer, Ackoff, Checkland and Churchman. The text also looks at ideas for a redefinition of management through systemic thinking, a guide to choosing, implementing and evaluating improvement strategies, and information on practical animation. The author has implemented systemic management in a wide range of organizations in many continents and lectured by invitation in 25 countries, including Japan and the USA.

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Understanding Organizations
C.B. Handy

Understanding Organizations

This classic text offers an illuminating discussion of key concepts of concern to all managers: culture, motivation, leadership, power, role-playing and working in groups. Ever mindful of actual business practice, Handy directly addresses how managers can translate the six main concepts into invaluable tools for effective management. He discusses how all organizations need to select, develop and reward their people; to structure and design their work; to resolve political conflicts; to lay down guidelines for their managers; and to plan for the future. In each case, the approaches and techniques described here are invaluable.

Equally important, Handy excels at presenting his ideas in colourful, immediately accessible ways, filling the book with illuminating examples and inventive metaphors that range from Tolstoy's ideas on the concept of self, to the many meanings of "good morning," to the conversations that occur in a stopped elevator, to the proper size for a vineyard or an elephant. He shows, for instance, how an optical illusion experiment sheds light on interdepartmental relations, and how the way schoolchildren are typecast by their peers helps explain corporate hierarchies. And along with case studies, graphs, charts, and questionnaires, Understanding Organizations is peppered with boxed sections that offer advice and stimulate thought, brimming with provocative quotations from business wizards such as Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, Warren Bennis, Alvin Toffler, and Rosabeth Moss Kanter, as well as from Aristotle, Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan, Gail Sheehy, and Joseph Heller.

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Learning To Fly: Practical Lessons from One of the World's Leading Knowledge Companies
Chris Collison, Geoff Parcell

Learning To Fly: Practical Lessons from One of the World's Leading Knowledge Companies

Knowledge is power. In corporate terms knowledge means efficiency, productivity and ultimately profit, but too often it is not exploited to the full. Learning to Fly shows how organisations can take the knowledge within a company and turn it to a new advantage. It has been built from the real-world experiences of authors Chris Collison and Geoff Parcell during their time working for BP.

The book is divided into three parts. First the concept of knowledge management is introduced--if you've not come across it before, this section explains the principles. Part two describes how various techniques can be applied in order to share knowledge. The theory is fleshed out with real-world examples. Finally, part three takes a look at how knowledge management can be embedded within an organisation's everyday work rather than be simply applied as if an afterthought. The goal is to achieve a situation in which sharing knowledge is an everyday practice that does not need specialists to manage it. To this end, "Action Zones" encourage the reader to think about their own situation and ideas, and practical suggestions are offered. Learning to Fly puts the theory in place in order to explain how to use it in real-life working environments.

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Learning-Org Dialog on Learning Organizations
The site owned by Richard Karash is the home of the Learning-Org Discussion Pages. Today's interesting discussions as well as archives from as far back as September 1994...

Brint Institute
Yogesh Malhotra's BRINT is the Mecca of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management. Stacked to the rafters with articles and resources...

Learning Organization
Kai Larsen's web page includes a broad introduction to Learning Organizations and systems thinking...

Learning Organization Library
The Learning Organization library is just one section of the Free Management Library lovingly prepared by Carter McNamara of Authenticity Consulting, LLCA. The site houses one of the world's largest online library's about organization development and change...

A Different View of Organizational Learning
This paper written by Sue Gilly explores the concept of group learning as a primer for organizational learning...

Society for Organizational Learning
SoL was formed in April 1997 to continue the work of MIT's Center for Organizational Learning (1991-1997). Peter Senge, author of the The Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization is the founding Chairman of SoL...

Buckman Laboratories Knowledge Nurture
Excellent resource for those who want to learn about knowledge management. Their extensive library contains books, articles, journals, websites and other references. It also includes related topics like culture change, leadership, measurement and information technology...

Knowledge Management Research Centre
If you are interested in Knowledge Management this website has to be your first port of call. KMRC is the online arm of CIO Magazine and has been online since 1995. The extensive resources includes free access to all of the articles that have appeared in their print publication (back to 1994)...

Knowledge Management—Emerging Perspectives
Nothing flashy - just masses of excellent KM resources brought to you by Gene Bellinger of OutSights...

The Learning Organization - An International Journal
Subscribe to the highly respected journal, which aims to provide debates, developments and new approaches, in order to gain a broader understanding into the concept of the learning organization...

Organizational Learning, Knowledge Management and Learning Organizations
Barry Sugarman's pages provide excellent articles and useful links...






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