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Learning Organisations

   Knowledge management is the process of creating value from an organization’s intangible assets through a full set of processes, knowledge-based systems, business process improvement, human resource management, organizational behavioural concepts and cultural change.

   One of the paradigm shifts, or shifts in management thinking, behind knowledge management, is that it has moved from Taylorism (command-and-control, narrow and precise job descriptions, emphasis on efficiency and output, assembly line, standard parts, mass production, adversarial labour-management relations) to autonomous, empowered knowledge workers.

   In 1968, Warren Bennis of the University of Southern California predicted three things are going to be new:
• Career path: more professional and technical workers, less supervisory work and bosses; what matters is what you do, not whom you do it for.
• Businesses have redrawn their boundaries.
  – Focus on core processes and technologies;
  – Outsource non-core works, form internal network and virtual corporations, participate in economic webs;
  – Value of business is derived less from physical asset control but more from knowledge it develops and applies
• Project based work has been the norm for most businesses.

   The concept of Learning Organizations has been introduced by Peter Senge who defined "A learning organization is an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behaviour to reflect new knowledge and insights" and summarized:
• The organizations that will truly excel in the future will be the organizations that discover how to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels in an organization.
• The team that became great didn’t start off great – it learned how to produce extraordinary results.
• What fundamentally will distinguish learning organizations from traditional authoritarian "controlling organizations" will be the mastery of certain basic disciplines that is why the "disciplines of the learning organization" are vital.

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

   Disciplines of the Learning Organization (Peter Senge (1990), The fifth discipline):

1. Systems Thinking
It is a conceptual framework, a body of knowledge and tools that has been developed over the past fifty years, to make the full patterns of our thinking clearer, and to help us see how to change them effectively.
2. Personal Mastery
It is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively. As such, it is an essential cornerstone of the learning organization – the learning organization’s spiritual foundation.
3. Mental Models
They are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.
4. Building Shared Vision
Involves the skills of unearthing shared "pictures of the future" that foster genuine commitment and enrollment rather than compliance. In mastering this discipline, leaders learn the counter-productiveness of trying to dictate a vision, no matter how heartfelt.
5. Team Learning
It starts with "dialogue," the capacity of members of a team to suspend assumptions and enter into a genuine "thinking together." Team learning is vital because teams, not individuals, are the fundamental learning unit in modern organizations.
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