A learning organization is an organization that acquires and manages knowledge. They are innovative and flexible, which allows for survival in an ever-evolving environment. A true learning organization creates a culture that promotes, supports, and encourages learning in addition to collaboration and the generation of new ideas. Such an environment allows for mistakes, places value on employee contributions, and nurtures the desire to learn. It is through experience and experimentation that organizations learn, acquire, and maintain knowledge.
The specific steps in becoming a Learning Organization, according to Greenberg (2013), are organizations must establish a commitment to change, be willing to adopt an informal organizational structure and develop an open organizational culture where risk-taking is welcome. All organizations learn and change, however, the key to learning and changing is to do so willingly and proactively. Motorola is a good example of a learning organization, as they work to move beyond their old mindset and strive to make forward-thinking changes. Motorola has received the Malcolm Baldridge Award for Quality and the top learning award from ASTD (American Society for Training & Development). With over 60,000 employees, they strive to maintain their innovative, cutting-edge commitment to learning. While there are many facets to their success, one of them is Motorola extends training programs to every employee in their organization, where most organizations reserve training funds for key employees.
Pasher & Ronen (2011), O’Dell & Hubert (2011), and Senge (2006) agree that learning and knowledge management is critical to an organization’s success. Learning and knowledge can be measured through maturity, levels, and specific components such as resources, leadership, change management, communication, IT, and so forth.
The U.S. workforce is now comprised of four different generational cohort groups, each with its own history, value-shaping experiences, and motivational patterns. Gravett and Throckmorton (2007) reported the striking difference in the mindsets, motivations, and behaviors of these four generations in the workforce have the potential to bring both challenges and opportunities to the organizations they serve.
The four generational cohorts in today’s workforce include: •Silent Generation, also known as the Veterans, born between 1925 and 1945, who comprise 7.5% of today’s workforce •Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, who comprise 42.0% of the workforce •Generation X, born between 1965 and 1977, who comprise 29.5% of the workforce; •Generation Y, also known as the Millennials, born between 1978 and 1989, who comprise 21.0% of the workforce today (Martin & Tulgan, 2002) That makes the Baby-Boomer generation anywhere between 49 and 67 years old. How is your organization managing knowledge and continuing to learn?
Gravett, L., & Throckmorton, R. (2007). Bridging the generation gap: How to get the Radio Babies, Boomers, Gen Xers, and Gen Yers to work together and achieve more. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press.
Greenberg, J. (2013). Managing behavior in organizations (6th ed.). New York: Prentice Hall.
Martin, C. A., & Tulgan, B. (2002). Managing the generation mix, from collision to collaboration. Amherst, MA: HRD Press.
O’Dell, C., & Hubert, C. (2011). The new edge in knowledge: How knowledge management is changing the way we do business. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Pasher, E., & Ronen, T. (2011). The complete guide to knowledge management: A Strategic Plan to leverage your company’s intellectual capital. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Senge, P., Kleiner, A., Roberts, C., Ross, R., Roth, G., & Smith, B. (2006). The dance of change: The challenges of sustaining momentum in learning organizations. New York: Doubleday.
As you reflect on this week’s lecture, describe the learning process in your organization. Does it take into account the varying generations? What does it do to capture learning and knowledge? What can your organization do to ensure future learning?