Organizations Should Be Ready for Change to Survive Today's Society

Organizations in the 21st century are now faced with navigating through a global market place that is fast paced and constantly changing, and schools are no exception. Consumers' demands (students in the case of schools) are constantly changing and evolving; human resources needs are also changing and as a result, organizations cannot afford to remain static and stagnant if they wish to survive the competition. A changing market place coupled with environmental changes (political, economical, social and technological) require that organizations keep abreast of these changes and keep re-inventing themselves to yield greater competitive advantage.

This reinvention calls for constant organizational learning and development through the enterprise and it is a known fact that this learning can't take place without the human resources of the institution. According to Dessler (2003) an ingestion of knowledge can occur on an individual, group and organizational level. This, he added, will help companies to again knowledge workers and aid them during seasons of hyper- competition and market responsiveness and readiness.

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Administrators need to understand that organizations (and educational institutions) need to be constantly adaptive, innovative and responsive to the climate of market and the demands of external environment in which they operate (Argyris, 1993). To facilitate this organizational development, firms need to learn. By this, Beck (1999) posits that organizations (and schools) need to adjust, edit, improve, reinvent and adopt systems and practices through its human resources that add value to the organization and make the company more productive, efficient and effective. Organizational learning involves four interrelated processes.

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These are discovery, intervention, production and generalization (Locke and Jain, 1995).

They added that the discovery phase of organization involves the identification of the performance gaps in what is actually happening in the institution and what are the desired outcomes that management wants to achieve. It must be noted that these outcomes are also as a result of the changing nature of environment surrounding educational institutions. With the identification of the performance gap/problem, an intervention is sought out which will require the organization to change the way it is currently operation and this will require the unlearning and re-learning of procedures and practices. They went on to add that at the production stage, the institution is now tapping into the new knowledge (whether by way of new talents being employed or developing the KSAOS of the current staff) of the organization and benefiting from the relearning exercise. At the generalization stage, the authors posited that the administrators should evaluate the current issue and draw conclusions from this experience and strive to apply the process to other affected areas or situations in the institution.

Strategic educational institutions see the benefits of learning and use this process to bring their organizations to the next level. Leaders who have a transformational vision use organizational learning to achieve continuous organization-wide improvement, innovation and market readiness and responsiveness (Watkins and Golembiewski, 1995). They went on to add that, in this age of hyper-competition, it behooves institutions to unlearn and re-learn faster than their competitors and this will add value to their bottom-line and students. Therefore, as demonstrated by Toyota Japan, continuous learning is the hallmark of a progressive organization and all organizations that intends to survive should be a ‘learning organization' (Dolcemascolo, 2006).

Additionally, Lacke & Jain (1995) and Argyris (1993) both believe that a key issue is for organizations to learn and then translate this learning into action and to a greater competitive advantage. He went on to add that there are a number of factors that administrators need to ensure in order to create a learning culture within their organizations. These are: encourage employees (teachers) to learn by doing; realizing that training is merely a method to impart knowledge; align senior teachers to assist the process; use teams to enhance the learning process; and promote an environment of sharing one's abilities and an openness to critique the status quo.

According to Smith (2001) an open system in an organization speaks to one that is responsive to the global environment in which it operates. Today's schools exit in a market where there is competition for resources, markets, highly skilled teachers and support staff and innovation gained towards to learning and administration. The theory of open systems speaks to the following factors as crucial and central to organizational environment:

  • The competition Customers
  • The technological factor
  • The regulatory factor
  • The economic factor
  • The socio-cultural factor

Organizations adopting an open systems approach need to develop characteristics and allow them to adapt to constraints, threats, and opportunities (Smith, 2001). I believe that schools and administrators need to import capabilities from the environment and these capabilities can be achieved through organizational learning and re-learning. An attitude of continuous learning and the need to unlearn and re-learn in order to navigate the market doesn't come by accident in a company: this attitude has to be cultivated and encouraged throughout the organization by its senior managers (Beck, 1992).

He went on to add that since learning can't take place without the work force, it is imperative that staff are a part of the strategic planning process as they are integral to the achievement of the benefits of this. According to Dessler (2003) a major part of organizational learning is the issue of unlearning. He posited that while it is a positive move for institutions to embrace learning, they also need to realize the importance and need to unlearn the practices that have not benefited the company.

Peter Senge, describe as an ‘idealist pragmatist', outlined 5 converging dimensions that are aimed at gearing organizations not only to survive and adapt, but to be innovative learning organization, different from traditional organizations (Smith, 2001). Peter Senge identified five dimensions, in his book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization: systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building shared vision and team learning, Smith (2001) added. According to him systems thinking is the corner stone of The Fifth Discipline. As an administrator in a school, I believe that schools learn best from experience, however, Senge pointed out that organizations seldom see the consequences of the most important decisions.

He postulated that administrators tend to see cause and effect in a narrow view where there are closely related and as a result we as administrators tend to only look at the solution to the problem (Smith, 2001). He added that fundamentally, administrators (principals) want solutions that provide improvement in the institution in the short term. However, when one looks at the school through the eyes of 'systems', one can see the need to think strategically and in the long term and as a continuous learning school not ready to gain in the short term to lose out even bigger in the long run.

Senge postulated that no form of organization (whether a school or a profit making firm) would learn without each individual within the organization learning also. However, he went on to state that individual learning doesn't guarantee organizational learning. Personal Mastery is another dimension, which speaks to the need for employees to not be merely competent and skilled in their area, but to have exceptional skills. Personal Mastery, as Smith (2001) states is a continuous process with no arrival point, and must be viewed as a lifelong process by a learning organization/school.

The third dimension of Peter Senge is the mental models, which he postulated to involve employees turning the searchlight inward on themselves for pair reviews and assessment. In a learning school, teachers and support staff can use this model by partaking in 'learningful' conversations, carrying out necessary changes and are in tuned with the local school community (a localized organization). engage

The fourth dimension involves the organization building a shared vision among its staff. Peter Senge postulated that a shared vision is quite different from just having a mission/vision statement in the organization. He added that employees must buy into this vision and make it apart of their own. By doing this, a learning organization would into experimentation and innovation and garnering the best skill-set necessary. As an administrator, it is vital that teachers and staff are onboard 100% with the goals of the schools, as these are the people who are needed to carry out and accomplish these goals. It is crucial that administrators do not dictate the vision but seek to have a shared view of the future by increasing clarity, commitment and enthusiasm.

The fifth dimension, team learning, is built on the premise that employees should be able to work together to carry out the shared vision using their personal mastered skills. Senge stressed that dialogue is paramount to forming team learning.

Like managers in private/pubic corporations, administrators in school realize that there is a need for change; the value in this change, their roles in the process, their adaptability to the change and their own competence and skills needed to move the school forward (Alston & Gorton, 2011). He added that continuous learning requires a school to collaborate and cooperate both with the internal (being inquiries and dialogue) and external (the external environment) aspects of the school. In order to improve the performance of a school, (Sadki, 2015) lists the 7-action imperative of learning strategy according to Karen E. Watkins and Victoria J. Marsick:

  • Create continuous learning opportunities
  • Promote inquiry and dialogue
  • Encourage collaboration and team learning
  • Empower people toward a collective vision
  • Connect the organization to its environment
  • Establish systems to capture and share learning
  • Provide strategic leadership for learning

Watkins and Marsick postulated that organizational learning occurs at all levels of the organization (Alston & Gorton, 2011):

  • Individual: This form of learning is triggered through continuous inquiry and dialogue fostering continuous learning. As a school administrator, I think it's important to make learning opportunities for individual teachers and support staff. Also, the use of on-the-job training will help to share knowledge and aid in transference of knowledge.
  • Team/groups: This occurs in collaborative learning aimed towards transformation. As a school administrator, it is crucial that you use teams and group and different approaches in order to find the one that best fits the school and/or project. Through this a culture of collaboration is being formed and embedded in the memory of the school.
  • Institution: Systems should be established to capture and share learning and in so doing empowering employees to act towards and shard and collective vision. School administrators must establish ways of sharing learning and make it apart of the regular daily job. This occurs as a result of empowered employees who come together to achieve a shared vision.
  • Global or societal: Employees should connect with the environment through alliances and strategic leadership geared towards learning. Through strategic transformative leadership as a school administrator, teachers should be able to see how their efforts and work impacts the entire school. As a result, the administrator is building a tight relationship between the employees, teams, school and school community and the society at large. As members of various educational institutions, let's do our part in developing a learning culture in our schools, so as to foster the creation and spread of knowledge and information.
Updated: Mar 22, 2023
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Organizations Should Be Ready for Change to Survive Today's Society. (2023, Mar 22). Retrieved from

Organizations Should Be Ready for Change to Survive Today's Society essay
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