A Total Re-Thinking of What it Means to be a Learning Organization – (Insight from Exponential Organizations)


Read these quotes carefully:

If you’re running a big company today and are not aware of these technologies—not to mention how they might impact your company—you are simply not doing your job.

Constant learning is critical to staying on the exponential curve.

John Seely Brown and John Hagel have observed that although all of our large organizations are set up to scale efficiencies, in this new economy what we actually need to scale is learning.

What is needed now are new dashboards that measure the learning capability of organizations.

How can the board guide a CEO if it is not aware of the potentially disruptive changes the company faces?

Exponential OrganizationsThese all come from Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it) by Salim Ismail, Michael S. Malone, Yuri van Geest.

So, here’s the problem. I’m a big fan of the idea of life-long learning. I believe in learning. I want to encourage others to learn; I want to challenge others to learn.

I read books, I listen to TED Talks, and other videos, and I value learning.

Or, so I thought…

There are books that I love to read because they just teach me information that I need filled in (like, The Innovators). But there are also books that I read that sort of slap me in the face, and remind me that I don’t even fully grasp the questions and challenges…

Exponential Organizations is that kind of book.

Of the many reactions I am having reading this book, here’s a key one: I have probably mis-defined the idea of a “learning organization.” To the authors of this book, they define “learning” as actual exposure to, and then adoption of and mastery of, new technological tools. The new technology itself, and the new ways it can be put to use.

And, on that count, I have not yet learned to learn.

I’m presenting my synopsis of this book this Friday, and will blog about my takeaways early next week. But here’s my thought right now – if I am not actually doing some new things, kind of “all the time,” then I am not much of a learner.

The book clearly describes why companies that don’t learn to learn are left behind.

And, now, I realize better than ever, why I have some serious catching up to do…

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