Principle Characteristics of a Learning Organization

Learning Organizations

All organizations including the lifelines of the structure of the country including general industries, banks, ministries, government organizations, etc. play a role in changes of the society from time to time. These are the organizations to decide the direction of movement of the labor market, changes in different organizational models, choose the direction in which the society will move, take advantages of the new forms of connectivity now achievable through the Internet, and all other matters for taking the society forward. Thus their learning will finally determine what the society will learn. This is why it becomes how the entire exercise of learning takes place within the organizations and that also includes business organizations. There is also a requirement to know how though this learning process, information transfers and knowledge management effects take place on management. The importance is thus on factors within the organization which help or slow down the progress of information. This may be stated as “knowledge management” within organizations. (Learning Organizations:

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We have talked about organizational learning and for this to be achieved there has to be individual learning. In the traditional organizations there are not enough concerns about thinking critically and creatively. These are characteristics of the organization that have to be developed when the organization is moving from a traditional organization to a learning organization. One of the areas where these skills are most required is in the development of values and assumptions required for organizational development. The definition of organizational development can be said to be a continuous effort at regular improvement with this effort of continuous improvement being supported at all levels of the organization. This requires interdisciplinary approaches and modern technology. This makes organizational development the source for development of inventions like organizational learning. This also talks about people and how they work with others to reach their personal and organizational goals. (Larsen; McInerney; Nyquist; Santos; Silsbee, 1996)

In a lot of instances, the achievement of goals requires creative thinking and problem solving. Management experts have defined the required disciplines to be personal mastery, mental models, team learning, shared vision and systems thinking. For achieving personal mastery it is essential that one first defines what is being attempted, or in other words, what is the goal? The immediate follow up to this is the decision as to the methods of achieving of this goal. Often enough this goal is quite a distance away and it may take a long time to reach it, if ever. (Larsen; McInerney; Nyquist; Santos; Silsbee, 1996) In other words, it may be said that a learning organization is one in which organization members at all levels of the organization, in both their personal and group capacity are continuously increasing the knowledge levels so that the best practices are adopted and the best possible results are achieved.

At the same time, a learning organization is very sincere in thinking about its members. The development of a learning organization is actually a new concept in the process through which organizations change. This change is not as simple to define as a top down or a bottom up change but a change that is achieved through participative thinking at all levels. Change to a learning organization is possible for all organizations like industries, businesses, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, community groups and even families. The first assumption that learning organizations make is that learning is the most valuable experience and it has to be continuous. Learning is also most effective when it is shared and every option is taken as an opportunity to learn. (Creating a Learning Organization Environment for the Facilities Professional)

This makes all learning organizations have a few essential core values — providing continuous learning opportunities to all members, letting the organization reach its goals through learning, linking up individual performance with the performance by the organization, promoting enquiry and dialogue and thus making it safe for members to share openly and take risks, viewing creative tension as their source of energy and renewal and the organization is continuously aware of the environment and interacting with the environment. This also means that individuals working in a learning organization are fully aware and they are deeply involved in their work. They are all trying their best to reach the best level of their business and personal potential. All members share a common vision and mission as part of an effort to reach greater capacities from the existing unit. They all try to reach their personal mastery through the use of mental models and the personal goals of individuals are in line with the requirements and objective of the organization. (Creating a Learning Organization Environment for the Facilities Professional)

Another important character of learning organizations is to find all possible methods for the members to share their individual knowledge and experience. The result of this is the creation of a trusting environment as most individuals feel that information is power. This means that there is a requirement for continuous dialogue within the organization and not just passing on of instructions. Members of the organization must learn to see the connection between their knowledge and its usefulness to the organization. The difficulty in this sharing is that most of us are not willing to share when we feel or know that we are not right. This sort of feeling is tied up with the personality of individuals. Even learning organizations have some of this as a heritage from their members. The solution is for the leaders to demonstrate clearly that they do not know everything and have to find out whether the effort is in line with the organization’s core business. Simply speaking this means that leaders have to share their experiences, whether it is useful to the organization or not. The method of sharing is not through email but through personal communication — in the hall, lunchroom, etc. The aim is to remove all fears. (Gluck, 2001)

In short, it may be said that a learning organization is one which is trying to change, whereas other organizations are trying to operate to a set pattern.


This is a new concept that has come, and while it may be helping some organizations to grow fast, it has not been tested with the effects of time yet.


Cain, David. A. “Creating a Learning Organization Environment for the Facilities Professional”

Retrieved from

Accessed 18 September, 2005

Gluck, Julia. (October 29, 2001) “What Are the Principle Characteristics of a Learning

Organization?” Retrieved from Accessed 18 September, 2005

Larsen, Kai; McInerney, Claire; Nyquist, Corinne; Santos, Aldo; Silsbee, Donna. (May 13, 1996)

‘Learning Organizations” Retrieved from / Accessed 18 September, 2005

‘Learning Organizations” Retrieved from

Accessed 18 September, 2005

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