In this paper I intend to discuss change management approaches that support the learning organization philosophy. The learning organization is defined as an organization that acquires knowledge and innovates fast enough to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing environment. Learning organizations (1) create a culture that encourages and supports continuous employee learning, critical thinking, and risk taking with new ideas, (2) allow mistakes, and value employee contributions, (3) learn from experience and experiment, and (4) disseminate the new knowledge throughout the organization for incorporation into day-to-day activities. On the other hand we have a process called change management which is defined as minimizing resistance to organizational change through involvement of key players and stakeholders. At my organization these two go hand in hand and it allows for us as a company to experience constant growth and development of our staff. Our employees are more willing to welcome change when we train them in the process.
As businesses moves through the 21st century, they are becoming more dependent upon their managers to be change agents. These companies actually seek managers who can bring success to their organizations. Three of the characteristics we look for in our new managers are they must have the ability to stimulate change, excellent planning capabilities, and ethics.
Over the years I have spent in management I have learned that success in becoming a learning organization relies on a commitment to learning on the part of the organizations I have worked for and the willingness of the individuals involved to be receptive to the change process. As a manager, what we usually can change falls into basically three categories; people, structure, or technology. An efficient manager will make alterations in these areas in an attempt to facilitate change. With people the change involves adjusting attitudes, expectations, perceptions, and probably most importantly behavior. Coaching people to adjust in these areas will help employees within the organization to work together more effectively. Changing structure relates to the job design, specialization, hierarchy and any other structural variables.
These usually need to be flexible and non-static in order to be adaptable to change. When dealing with technological change we are looking at modifying work processes and methods along with the introduction of new equipment. To me learning organizations support the change process just as much as change management supports the learning organization philosophy. I say that because every change calls for some sort of learning as the more comprehensive the change the more attention we have to place on learning for the individuals involved in the change. By utilizing the learning organizations philosophies companies including the one I work for are able to magnify the potential of its employees which keeps them growing.
Learning in action: a guide to putting the learning organization to work/ David A. Garvin