“The Learning Organization” Frontloading #ATPLC Chat 2/13/14

While educational chats can be wonderful collaborative learning opportunities and experiences…140 spaces can, at times be a bit limiting and confining.  So, with that thought, I determined that it might be a good opportunity to frontload the topic and the questions for our #atplc chat this Thursday evening.

After much mental debate on a variety of topics and ideas that I would thoroughly enjoy exploring and engaging…I decided upon placing the focus for our chat on organizational learning and learning as an organization.

Which the DuFours and Eaker refer to in Learning by Doing as a Learning Organization.  It is in Learning by Doing, they provide us with the following definition of a Learning Organization as a place…”where people continually expand their capacities to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together.”  (Senge, 1990, p. 3)

So for a Learning Organization to truly live out its mission…learning has to be at the very core of all they do and are.  And that requires learning to exist at all levels of the educational community…from the students, to parents, teachers, administrators, staff, and stakeholders.

Which means that true Learning Organizations are determined to cascade learning across the entire organization, at all levels… 

Yet, very often we have a tendency to narrow our focus only to the learning of our students, but that is not enough.  We have to include the ongoing growth and learning of the adults in our system…if we are ever to exist as a true Learning Organization.

And if we are going to expand the capacity of all…then we need to create an environment that allows for systemic learning and growth to occur at all levels of the organization.  It is not just about a haphazard sharing of an article, or digging into a great book you have read, or presenting the highlights at Monday’s staff meeting of a conference you attended…it requires systemic planning and processes if we are to attain deep learning at an organizational level.

And it requires leadership to create the conditions and pathways for that learning to occur across the organization…

Or as the DuFours and Eaker maintain in Learning by Doing…it requires conditions that allow for “perpetual curiosity“, “engaging in ongoing study” and “constant reflective practice“.

To create a true Learning Organization and engage in ongoing organizational learning necessitates the leadership to create the path.  Which requires the leaders of these organizations to engage in ‘around the corner’ thinking.  Which means leaders of an Learning Organization have to move beyond ‘just in time’ thinking.

Learning Organization leaders are constantly pushing ahead and planting the seeds that allow change and growth to occur across the organization.  They are incessantly moving the learning conversation forward.

And for that, Learning Organization leaders need to be out in front, engaging in, making themselves aware, as well as deciphering what is coming and necessary learnings for the benefit and betterment of the organization.

For all of this to happen…leaders need to be learners.  Curators of their own professional growth… 

They have to be able to control the pipeline of information so that it is less of a fire hose and more of a steady stream of ideas and learning for their organization.  When leaders lack the awareness and notice to control this…they end up losing more ideas than they engage.  Which eventually hurts and halts their progress and growth as a Learning Organization.  The goal is not to overwhelm, but to create ongoing progress.

Learning Organization leaders understand this…as well as acknowledging the busy and hectic schedules of those they lead.  So they connect with that knowledge and awareness to make sure that they are neither giving too much or too little learning…as well as providing clarity and setting the foundation for the why.  It has to make sense…the learning has to connect to a bigger picture or vision.

Otherwise, when leadership provides the learning in unconnected bits and pieces, they destroy the learning flow and the process becomes disjointed and causes more chaos than growth.

Learning across the organization has to be released in engaging and empowering ways that allow those in the organization to engage the learning in meaningful and fruitful ways.

With that said, here are the questions for Thursday’s #atplc chat:

  1. If learning is at the heart or core of a Learning Organization…how are you creating and building that core in your organization?
  2. Time, necessity and curiosity set the stage for learning…how do you create and attend to those in your organization? (We will look at all three individually)
  3. What systems or processes are in place to make sure that the learning is tied to the vision…and not disjointed and reactive in nature?
  4. As a Learning Organization leader, you need to engage ‘around the corner’ thinking…how do you push your professional learning and growth?
  5. In Learning by Doing they discuss ‘perpetual curiosity‘, ‘ongoing study‘, ‘constant reflection‘…how do you engage your organization in these three areas?
  6. A Learning Organization is as much a mindset as it is a thing…how do you create that type of mindset within your organization?

Thank you.  Looking forward to learning with everyone.


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