Becoming a Learning Organization – Taking the First Step

By Scott

Over the past few months, we’ve given a lot of thought to who we are, and what we hope to become. Obviously we’re in the business of helping clients to market themselves online, but we don’t want to be defined simply by the service we offer.

We sat down and starting thinking about our core values and beliefs. Here is what we came up with:

1) We are an online marketing business dedicated to generating cost effective sales for our clients.

2) We only do things that we can do exceptionally well and we work with best-of-breed partners to enhance our existing services when appropriate.

3) We are dedicated to offering responsive communication (both internally and externally).

4) We’re committed to providing solutions, not excuses.

5) We practice open and honest communication with each other and our clients.

6) We practice what we preach and are committed to what we set out to do.

7) We are committed to the individual growth of our people, and to growing the skills and capabilities of our company.

Our core values and beliefs as articulated above reflect what we want to become, and in many cases, what we already are. While for the most part our daily practices are inline with our values and beliefs, we still have work to do.

Now, we’re focusing in on #7 from the list above “fostering the growth of our people and the skills of our company.?? To that end, we’ve decided that an important first step will be transitioning into becoming a true learning organization. It takes time, but the journey starts with a single step.

Dr. Peter Senge, a Senior Lecturer at MIT and author of “The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization,?? states it well:

“Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we reperceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life. There is within each of us a deep hunger for this type of learning.” (WikiPedia).

I could not agree more.

Our first step towards becoming a learning organization will be to… well… start sharing, and start learning.

Every Friday our staff meets for lunch in the conference room. It’s a nice reward after a long week. The plan is to hold a meeting immediately following lunch where one person will select a topic that is particularly interesting to them (whether within the guise of their immediately specialty or not), and present it to the group.

So one Friday, Cole may do a presentation on marketing opportunities using RSS feeds. The next week, Ray may give a presentation on the importance of colors in web design and landing pages.

People will sign-up a few weeks before their presentation and will have ample time to prepare.

Part of the process will be constructing an article that will be displayed either on our website, or on our blog, so we can start the process of educating our customers, partners, and random visitors.

Why do this? Richard Karash shared a number of benefits on an article he wrote entitled “Why a Learning Organization.?? My favorites include:

– Its more fun to go to work in learning organizations

– Because we want superior performance and competitive advantage

– To improve quality

– For innovation

– To increase our ability to manage change

– For energized committed work force

– To engage in community

– Because the times demand it

– Learning orgs provide a playground for creative ideas

– Learning orgs provide a safe place to take risks with new ideas and behaviors and the challenge needed to stretch beyond perceived limits

– In learning organizations everyone’s opinions are valued and amount that people can contribute is not determined by position in the organization

I look forward to beginning this process, and welcome feedback from one and all!

– Scott