Business Success: The Learning Organization Part I

The technology driven enterprise demands a new leadership paradigm – one that creates a far stronger, more genuine link between the achievement of corporate objectives and the employee’s realization of his deepest, often unexpressed, intensely personal growth needs.

Thus, rather than the mere promise of greater corporate status and power, followership is borne of belief in the leader’s true understanding and caring for the employee’s holistic being and welfare, and thus flows from greater intimacy.
Kendall A. Elsom, Jr., President, CEO Genesis Consulting Partners

The_fifth_discipline_coverIn The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge introduces five new component technologies, or disciplines that “are gradually converging to innovate learning organizations.” They are systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building shared vision, and team learning. According to Senge, organizations that practice these disciplines are adaptable, self-organizing, and have the potential to “continually enhance their capacity to realize their highest aspirations.”

Below are two of the five disciplines.  We will cover the other three in the next blog article.

Systems Thinking
As previously described, systems thinking takes the approach that to have impact, the organization needs to be viewed in its entirety with recognition that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. While one participates in a system, it is sometimes difficult to see the overall pattern and how that pattern changes over time. Since parts of organizations are connected by numerous interactions, the effect on other parts may take years to play out.
Traditional approaches tend to view each part in isolation, often never getting to some of the deepest issues. Senge defines systems thinking as “a conceptual framework, a body of knowledge and tools that has been developed over the past fifty years, to make the full patterns clearer, and to help us see how to change them effectively.”

Personal Mastery
Senge defines personal mastery as “the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively.” As someone might strive for master status within a trade, mastery is a special level of proficiency or self-actualization. It is a foundational element of the learning organization since “an organization’s commitment to and capacity for learning can be no greater than that of its members.”

Unfortunately, this is where many organizations fall short, leading to vast untapped potential. Most people enter business full of optimism and energy. But after a number of years, they become disenchanted and just put in their time until retirement with minimum effort. Therefore, it is critical for management to hire and inspire toward the goal of each member striving for personal mastery.

Join us next week for the other 3 disciplines.

Business Success: Principles of Dialogue Part 1

Last week was discussed what dialogue is and how important it is to business intelligence success. Over the next two weeks we will cover the practices and principles of dialogue. Dialogue can be learned.  A “‘practice’ is an activity you do repeatedly to help bring about an experience.”

A practice based on principles establishes a tradition. It is intentional and designed to create choices.audience-in-classroom-listening-intently-to-speaker-during-meeting_w725_h492

The Practice of Listening: “The Principle of Participation”

• Develop an Inner Silence”; Listen with All the Senses
• Notice the self; “attend to both words and the silence between the words”; be aware of thought.
• Let go of the inner clamor.
• Slow down; be still.
• Stick to the facts; suspend judgment.
• Stay in the present; do not jump to conclusions based on the past; look for evidence that challenges any convictions.
• Find the gaps.
• Listen together; question self and others.
The Practice of Respecting: “The Principle of Coherence”

• Observe, honor, and defer to others. See others as legitimate.
• Honor people’s boundaries; do not intrude; do not withhold the self or distance the self. Imposing is not honoring; sharing personal experience is.
• Accept that others have something to teach us.
• Pay attention to connections in differences; look for the relationship among the parts.
• Look for the whole; find the hub, the center in order to slow down and stay in the present.
• Notice the internal disturbance; suspend the desire to fix it or tell others to change. Find your own center and focus on yourself as part of the whole.
• Look for the elephant in the room and name the feeling. Make deliberate space for those who have a different point of view.
• Hold the tension; do not react to it.

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