Sunday, June 23, 2013

Growth of a learning organization . . .

Thanks Scott for the comment to my last post on applying system tools to an issue that has evaded previous attempts to resolve.  In the comment, he captures one of the reasons why it is sometimes difficult for these tools to become part of the usual way of doing business.  The road to becoming a learning organization is difficult and takes time.

My biggest problem is that I am not a big process person, I am a problem solver and product person. The whole time through these meetings, my mind keeps floating back to, let's create a product, let's make the list of things we are expected to do, let's get this thing done.

Most of us are similar to Scott in that we want our time together to be efficient and effective and for many that means a product and resolution to an issue.  I am no different.  In the last committee meeting there were times when I was thinking if we just made this change or put this new structure in place we can put this problem behind us.  What I have come to understand, however, and Scott is learning is that we must first get to the bottom of the iceberg to understand the mental models driving the structures that create the results we want to change.

Putting new or revised structures in place without understanding the current mental models and preferred mental models necessary to change the results may for a time mask the issue, but often it will return.  This happens because what we have always done has created the results we are experiencing and somewhere in the system there will be a tendency to maintain the current reality by resisting the change.  This process takes time and the capacity of those involved to share their private thoughts.  Again, from experience I know how difficult this is and I also know that it is possible as I observe the capacity growing in our work.  We have a long way to go as a system, but we are learning.

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