An institution’s capacity to learn drives its ability to succeed (Gronhaug & Stone, 2012). Businesses reach the pinnacle of this capacity when they become learning organizations (LO) and realize what Senge (1990) characterized as the “Fifth Discipline”. Institution that achieve the “Fifth Discipline” experience a shift in organizational culture. Inventing new knowledge turns into a means of operating, not a specialized activity (Nonaka, 1991).

Modern literature agrees with the potential, philosophy and grand themes of the “Fifth Dimension”. The research is likewise in agreement that the doctrine includes several unsettled issues and queries that organizations need to clarify to reach it (Antonacopoulou, Moldjord, Steiro & Stokkeland, 2019; Gronhaug & Stone, 2012). Those challenges include; How will the entity recognize when it has developed into a learning organization? And, what behavior modifications are needed? These unanswered questions are perhaps the reason Gavin (2019) contended that although business leaders concur with the notions embraced by the LO, few organization have transitioned.

The New Learning Organization

Antonacopoulou et al. (2019) focused on these unsettled issues by presenting a conceptualized view of what they referred to as “The New Learning Organization” (NLO). The investigators argued for precise, actionable, simple to implement rules for practice that result in producing what they referred to as an “agile” organization. They further proclaimed the NLO is proficient at the same principles Goncalves (2011) represented as core tenants of agile. Those tenants include; group problem solving, experimenting with new techniques, learning from previous experience and best practices, and transferring knowledge throughout the organization in a quick and efficient manner.

Agile and the New Learning Organization

The change from a conventional institution into the NLO requires several interrelated organizational activities (Sharma & Bilgic, 2016). However, because of its similarities to the agile method, Yocum (2015) maintained that adopting agile can assist with, and speed up an entity’s transformation. The researcher found that numerous training teams have replaced their traditional principles and processes with agile to achieve the “Fifth Dimension” and become more flexible and efficient in creating online educational programs. Further, Yocum (2015) found that, like the NLO, agile focuses on solving problems, experimenting with new ways of getting work done, learning from experiences, and transferring knowledge throughout the organization. With agile, employees, empowered to decide, collaborate to produce solutions (Denning, 2016).

The Results

Training organizations that have adopted agile as a development method have experienced radical improvements because of group problem solving, experimentation with new approaches, and knowledge sharing (Sweeney & Cifuentes, 2012). One company reduced the time required to develop and deliver training solutions from close to a year to less than two weeks. Another increased the amount of training it could produce by 74 percent. Perhaps the most impressive story is how one group avoided layoffs during a company downsizing, because agile made its training and development process so cost-effective (Islam, 2017).

If you’re interested in learning how to use agile to help transform your training team into the NLO, fill out the form below to pick up a case study that details how one team did it.

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