5 Organizational Learning Disabilities Which Can Limit Success

This blog has talked a lot about organizational learning, but we’ve not spoken about organizational learning disabilities in detail. The thing is, organizational learning follows that old axiom about a chain being as strong as its weakest link. Disabilities of some in an organizational learning environment can hinder progress for the entire group, due to the interconnectivity of units in organizational learning environments. As a result, not knowing these disabilities and how to handle them can cause the whole effort to be a fruitless endeavor.

Knowing this, we need to understand and spot these organizational learning disabilities during training needs assessment and beyond, to ensure the greater success of the whole. So, with that in mind, I’m going to go over five of the bigger and most common disabilities suffered by units in a team.


I’ll try to offer a few ideas on how to abate these problems but sometimes, I think all you can do is work extra hard around the problem and hope it doesn’t obstruct you too severely. Sadly, this is all you can do sometimes.

#1 – Lack of Big Picture

Often times, people focus too much on their own position and purpose within an organization. This is usually the case with very new employees, and very long-term ones who tend to either focus out of nerves and new dedication, or are just ground into a rut by time.
The problem here is that with this attitude, any responsibility to the greater collective is often not considered or even noticed by these individuals. A lack of team spirit will hinder organizational learning.

It also makes them blind to greater causality, as their actions affect an entire organization. They often don’t perceive it this way, and this can be a problem.

So, what can you do? This is the first one where all you can really do is try to make them aware of these things, and work with them not being naturally inclined to think this way.

#2 – The Tough Get Going

Another problem is this false pretense people have, when faced with adversity, to “man up” and take charge. This is the attitude of not waiting for someone with final say to resolve confusion or issues, and going ahead and trying to take the bull by the horns.
Meditative patience is something you must teach them. Deadlines are important, but doing something right is more important, including training. Make sure this is hammered home, and this problem should be abated.

#3 – Short Term Goals

Often, individuals will become fixated on events, and short-term milestones and goals. This will cause them to lose picture of larger cycles and changes that take place. Since their actions directly affect these long term patterns, a lack of attention to this is dangerous.

The best solution here it to just make longer-term cycles more visible to the group alongside the short term, and demonstrate the links so they can see them.

#4 – Slow Reaction

As the old analogy goes, frogs are boiled slowly, with changes being gradual enough for them to never notice it. This is a problem that happens with many people in organizational learning environments. What I mean to say is that changes and new dynamics will be so gradual to implement or be needed that some people will be unaware of the change around them.

This will make them stragglers.

#5 – Overreliance on Experience Learning

People tend to see learning as something that can be aided by experience, and in many cases this is true. But, practice does not make perfect, it only makes permanent. If you practice something wrong, you will reinforce doing it wrong. This is the case in organizational learning, where experience should only be relied on when certain it ha accurate.

Another problem with this is that again, long-term cycles are something experience learning cannot account for. The only way to abate this is to keep hammering home the idea that in this situation, experience should be second and even third guessed.

These are the most common organizational learning disabilities, and there’s only so much you can do to abate them. Mostly, it’s about spotting them and trying to work with them more so than trying to remedy them.

Jason Silberman
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog
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