The Payoff of a Learning Organization

We learn steadily, every day.  And good companies do too.  The best companies have hundreds or thousands of employees gaining more knowledge and working better every single day, accruing knowledge that they use to create, innovate, and perform better.  Not all workplaces are like that, but they could be by applying systems thinking, learning principles, and newer effective management techniques and workforce policies.  In today’s competitive marketplace, can you afford not to have a learning organization?

You’ll Never Get Commitment Using Logic

In response to one of my recent emails concerning commitment, several clients asked, “So what are the leadership steps to getting commitment?”  Here’s one of the most important:  Don’t rely on logic; tap into emotion.

It’s what marketers do, and when you’re looking to build commitment, that’s exactly what you are doing too — marketing.  You’ve got to appeal to people’s rational self-interest and do it in a way that is both compelling and exciting.  For example, tell them why this is the most exciting time in the organization’s history.  Tell a story that conveys the reason your mission is important to them personally.  Whatever you do, don’t do a PowerPoint presentation full of business jargon.  As author Alan Weiss says, “Logic makes you think, but emotion makes you act.”

Strategic Planning is Rapidly Changing

Long gone are the thick binders GE used decades ago to create detailed plans for the next five years.  Even the approaches pioneered in the early 1980’s based on an organization’s current situation (such as SWOT analysis and Porter’s industry analysis) are quickly falling by the wayside.  Instead, organizations are adopting new approaches to sensing the future, creating rapid prototypes, and using scenario-based strategies.

What’s causing these changes?  The speed and complexity of change, the realization that one’s current situation cannot be successfully extrapolated into the future, the need to tap into more perspectives than senior management’s, and the practical need to successfully implement the strategy, make swift organizational changes, and fully align the entire organization with the strategy.

If your strategic planning process could use a lift, and you want new ideas to develop strategy in today’s changing environment, I’ll be happy to give you a briefing.

Getting More In-Tune With External Changes

One of the highest concerns of presidents I talk with these days is how to create an organization that is more proactive in sensing external change, and more responsive when it needs to be.  It’s very much the same as how to create a more innovative organization.  Both require shedding old models of managing and problem solving, and learning to become more open to new and different sources and strategies.

I am currently involved in an MIT course on this topic as it applies to organizations, as well as society and individuals.  The processes, tools and techniques are both interesting and practical.  If you’d like to hear more about how this applies to organizations like yours — or to your own individual learning and growth, give me a call and we’ll find a good time to discuss it.