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The learning organization

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A learning organization is a firm skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge as well as modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights (Giesecke & McNeil, 2004). Leaders in these types of organizations have multiple tasks one of which is to ensure and endorse creativity while at the same time ensuring the creative desires and behaviors of all in the organization, have a purpose. The purpose might simply be improved performance or the purpose might be more comprehensive and tied to an aligned culture based on the vision the firm is constructing. A learning organization is oriented toward the future as such the creative efforts of the organization are designed to limit the tendency for individuals to focus on the day-to-day aspects of their tasks. Academic research reveals that organizational actors overwhelmingly favor familiar routines derived from past experience relative to vague, uncertain visions of the future (Levitt & March, 1988).

The coordinating effort required of any learning organization has to do with ensuring there is sufficient focus on the future. Leaders help others with this process by understanding the underlying tension between the current reality and the future goals of the organization (Giesecke & McNeil, 2004). Leaders can accomplish this by stressing to themselves and others those areas where current routines or processes are no longer adequate (Ford, 2002). Adequacy can be obvious based on lost revenue or as part of an imagined scenario developed as part of a firm’s strategic change initiatives. Putting aside old approaches gives employees’ permission to break free from established ways of thought and perceived organizational constraints in order to view the world from an unsuppressed perspective (Leber, 2005). While this may invoke some deviant behavior; this behavior is aligned because it is focused on the future of the organization.

Ford, C. (2002). The futurity of decisions as a facilitator of organisational creativity and change.
Journal of Organizational Change Management, 15(6), 635-646.

Giesecke, J., & McNeil, B. (2004). Transitioning to the learning organization. Faculty Publications, UNL Libraries, 5.

Leber, R. Unleashing Creativity in the Workplace: Going beyond the operations manual. Leadership Advance Online, V, 1-5.

Levitt, B., & March, J. G. (1988). Organizational learning. Annual review of sociology, 319-340.

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