Organizational Learning Theories – Some Criteria for Evaluation

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Let’s talk some more about organizational learning theories. This time, we’re not going to look at the pros and cons of a few specific theories, nor how they work. We’re going to talk in stead about some important criteria to consider when choosing a strategy or amalgam of strategies that’re right for your needs.

Organizational Learning Theories – Some Criteria for Evaluation

See, there are a lot, and we do mean a lot of organizational learning theories, strategies and models out there. Ever since 1992, when the concept of organizational learning was proposed as a general dynamic, every sociologist, business major and educator has felt the need to contribute their two cents to the topic. This is far from a bad thing, because from the sharing of thoughts and opinions comes new growth and new ideas. However, it makes a bit of a mess, like we’ve been saying here. organizational learning theories So, today, let’s just talk about some important criteria to evaluate and quantify before even looking at the strategies that’re trending or tried and true. There’s a point where you as a leader, and as an organization must do a checkup at the neck up before proceeding, right? Well, when you evaluate yourself in this manner, this is when you should think about the nature of your environment, your people and yourself as a leader or trainer.


The first and most crucial thing, surprisingly, is your existing corporate culture. Corporate culture is the set of philosophies both in humanities and in business by which the company operates. This pertains to how they represent themselves to the customer as well as identify themselves, how the company’s morals and ethics work, and how the socio-dynamic of the internal workplace works both in protocol, procedures and human interaction. Corporate culture is a complicated and fickle beast, and there’s no set of general classifications for them, because a company is a collective consciousness, a super-organism. Just as you may spot some vague similarities in one person’s ways and another, knowing one intimately can never mean you truly know the other, right? Take the time to get a sense of this culture in your company, because it may be conducive to one theory or model, but not to another, or it may result in your formulating your own new theory altogether. If this happens, share it with the world. While stereotypes, profiling and discrimination are deplorable human habits, the criterion of age is actually something to consider. Are the majority of your people going to be past 35? Have they been with the company for a long time and are set in their ways? If so, while this far from means they’d be unwilling to learn, or incapable, it does mean a specific kind of approach may be called for. They may be shocked by paradigm shifts that aren’t eased on them the proper way, and they may become instinctively defensive if new, contradictory instructions or teaching is presented to them that, to them, may devalue their current ways for which they have long been praised and rewarded.


Another thing to consider is, do your people value learning and growth? If they do not value knowledge for knowledge’s sake, then incentives must be implemented from a number of different potential models and theories to account for this. The “what’s in it for me?” mindset isn’t necessarily a wrongful thing, it’s a very human trait and natural. But it must be accounted for if you see it present in your people.


Finally, how much of a sense of team and collective do the people have? If they do not value the accomplishments of the whole over the individual, you must find ways in the strategies you choose or design to either coerce them to think differently, or to account for a self-directive versus a meta-directive. This is tricky, but a number of models and theories have sprung up discussing this. While the models may not be 100% viable, they likely can contribute some new logic in your planning if you take a look at them. So, when considering your organizational learning theories to borrow from or adhere to, it’s important to first consider some key criteria in evaluating your environment and your people before you can actually sift the useful stuff from the fluff out there in your very specific and unique case.   Readers who want to learn how to create an effective organizational process should click here.
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog