November 30, 2008

System of Profound Knowledge an LO

After focusing these last couple of days on the System of Profound Knowledge, and trying to find ways of connecting the values illustrated in it,  with the theme of Lerning Organisation ,I have concluded that what Deming is doing is offering advice to managers in order to begin the learning process.

To cut a long story short by reading and most importantly by applying the principles presented in the System of Profound Knowledge, insightful managers are in a position to understand three critical aspects of the organisation they belong to :

1) how the system operates

2) the interactions between the components of the system (people as well as other resousres)

3)what are the outcomes? and can they be controlled? and to what extend

The meaning is that the leader needs to acquire knowledge of the way the organisation functions.

But this knowledge goes beyond just being able to deal with what is happening currently(the "adaptive" knowledge Senge analyses in The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization, 1990), the aim is to focus on the future. The kind of knowledge the System of Profound Knowledge provides is closer to the "generative" knowledge Senge analyses in the same book. Because, the objective is for an organisation to understand how things work and also constantly try to detect what can be done in order to improve in the future.

And is't this exactly what Deming says about continuasly redifining and reinventing an organisation?

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. 1. In the preface of Senge ’s fifth discipline (2000 edition) he said he was surprised that his idea of learning organisation has many similarities with Deming (somehow I am not surprised since he is a secret admirer of Deming :p)

    2. remember paul said the number of definition of leadership is as great as the number of people trying to define it? guess what, the same goes with organisational learning. After a while you kind of begin to think… maybe we shouldnt try to define IT . Maybe like ideas such as ‘love’ ‘friendship’ ‘courage’ , these ideas have different meaning to different people. We can only come to understand it from ‘intuition’ instead of ‘reason’ .

    3. what this means is no matter how people try to describe it (generative, double loop learning, systemic thinking or whatever), the idea of OL generally fall in the line of acquiring knowledge, improvement, action etc etc and so there is no surprise that we would find it to be very similar to ideas of modern management

    01 Dec 2008, 00:30

  2. Edward Moulding

    Learning Organization

    For programs (systems) continuous improvement is required if they are not to fall by the wayside. Continuous improvement requires a commitment to learning; effective learning requires motivation, wanting to learn. Without learning, organizations and people would simply repent old practices- repartition.

    Consider the following description of a learning organization.

    A learning organization is an organization skilled in creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.1.


     Problem solving – using a systematic approach . The use of data and simple statistical tools (Histograms, P charts) as a background to decision making, “fact based management”.

     Experimentation – involves the systematic search for and the testing of new knowledge, differs from problem solving in that it focuses on opportunities and expanding horizons rather than solving present problems.

    On going programs aimed at producing small experiments to gain increases in knowledge. The second method is to use “Pilot Projects” to test out principles and processes that the organization may wish to use later on a larger scale, both methods involve “learning by doing”
    All forms experimentation tries moving us from basic knowledge to a deeper understanding, from how things are done to knowing why

     Learning from past experience – requires the use of reflective observation to enable us to learn from our experiences,
    Reflection by itself however is not sufficient to promote learning, 10 years of the same experience “repetition” unless we act on our reflections no development takes place. This as been described the process as the “Santayana review” after George Santayana – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

     Learning from others – not all learning comes from refection and analysis, insights from outside of our own environment can allow us to gain new perspectives.One organization calls this process SIS “Steal Ideas Shamelessly” the more common term is – Benchmarking.
    Transferring knowledge – For learning to be effective, knowledge must be distributed quickly and efficiently as new ideals will gain maximum impact

    Organizational learning can be mapped through three phases.Cognitive learning when members of the organization are exposed to ideals and knowledge is expanded and they begin to think differently.

    Beginning to internalize these new concepts and change behavior to take account of these new insights.

    With the changes taking place in the first two phases the third phase should show tangible gains: quality, customer satisfaction, etc.

    Because cognitive and behavioral changes normally precede improvement in performance, we should review all three aspects of the process to obtain a comprehensive understanding. Most successful examples were the result of carefully cultivating attitudes, building commitment and management processes.

    The first step is to create an environment that encourages learning. There needs to be time for reflection, reflection by itself though is not enough to promote learning, unless we act on those reflections no development will take place, learning form the experience allows us to plan what to do next. Reflection is the central point that gives us the opportunity to draw conclusions about our practices “Abstract Conceptualism”

    The conclusions drawn from the “Abstract Conceptualism” stage by which we can plan changes “Active Experimentation” where the cycle starts again.(Kolb’s Cycle)

    Kolb Cycle

    An important lever is the opening up of boundaries and the exchange of ideas. Boundaries prevent the flow of information, cause isolation and reinforce preconceptions.

    With a better understanding of the: meaning, management and measurement of learning comes the underpinning foundations of a learning organization.

    07 Jan 2009, 09:37

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