What's New Contact About  
Learning Organization
KM Advantage Home
KM Overview
KM Articles
KM Bibliography
KM Links
Community of Practice
KM Leadership
KM News & Views
KM EventsKM Overview
KM Market
Business Brainpower
KM Basics
Learning Organization
Knowledge Capital

A Learning Organization

Becoming a true Learning Organization is what will enable a corporation to be the Wisdom Company and the Employer of Choice. In his August 1993 Harvard Business Review article on “Building a Learning Organization”, Harvard Business School Professor David Garvin defines a Learning Organization as “an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.” The key is that change occurs in the way work gets done. Dr. Garvin includes the following in the activities of a Learning Organization:

Systematic problem solving: thinking with systems theory; insisting on data rather than assumptions; using statistical tools.

Experimentation with new approaches: ensure steady flow of new ideas; incentives for risk taking; demonstration projects.

Learning from their own experiences and past history: recognition of the value of productive failure instead of unproductive success.

Learning from the experiences and best practices of others: enthusiastic borrowing.

Transferring knowledge quickly and efficiently throughout the organization: reports, tours, personnel rotation programs, training programs.

At the September 12, 1996 session of the “Worldwide Lessons in Leadership Series”, Learning Organizations guru Peter Senge stated that nothing much would get done if only the rules were followed. He said that the human system is the source of all work that gets done – innovation, etc. The formal system currently dominates the informal or human system. Instead, the formal system should be an enabler for the human system.

Transforming the formal system at a corporation into a Learning Organization will create the environment needed for the human system to thrive and will give the firm unmatched competitive advantage. As part of this process, the corporation needs to forget its old ways to make room for the new. The entire corporation's ecosystem needs to become one huge classroom. Effective feedback mechanisms need to be created and deployed that enable new ideas to be continually absorbed so that the best of them can be turned into action or new products and services.

The 21st Century Corporation

The Learning Organization is the foundation that will facilitate continuous innovation and improvement that will produce a World-Class Organic Enterprise. Applying and expanding one's wisdom in the enterprise’s ecosystem, while being nimble and flexible, will enable a firm to gain industry-independent global recognition for its leadership, excellence, and the principles that guide it. Then, that corporation, will be synonymous with World-Class.


"The second management concept that has guided us for the better part of two decades is a belief that an organization’s ability to learn, to transfer that learning across its components, and to act on it quickly is its ultimate, sustainable competitive advantage. That belief drove us to create a boundaryless company by delayering and destroying organizational silos. Selflessly sharing good ideas while endlessly searching for better ideas became a natural act."

Jack Welch
Former Chairman and CEO, General Electric Company
Presented at the GE 2000 Annual Meeting - April 26, 2000



KM Advantage Home | KM Overview | KM Articles | KM Bibliography | KM Links | Community of Practice | KM Leadership | KM News & Views | KM Events

Back to top | What's New | Contact | About

Copyright ©2003 by The Provider's Edge, LLC. All rights reserved.
Final major update of this site was on November 23, 2003 - Version