Steven P. Ober, in his chapter titled, Lies About Learning Organizations, in Larry Israelite’s book, Lies About Learning, bursts the bubble of people who say they already are or who say they can help you become a learning organization. He argues that the goal of being an enterprise that is constantly improving by learning and adapting to its environment is merely a dream that can probably never be attained. He writes:
To be truthful (what a concept!), articles, methods, models, designs, and sales pitches notwithstanding, no one really knows how to do organizational learning ot to pull off a successful, large-scale organizational change.
While I agree with Ober’s criticism of the learning-organization movement, and, I would say, the movement’s cavalier attitude about what is required in terms of time and commitment to whole-organization change, I think we do have tools and processes that can help organizations move in this direction. I have written about some of these tools and processes in The Manager’s Pocket Guide to Organizational Learning. Essentially, we have to get individuals, teams, and the whole organization to continuously collect feedback and reflect on their capacity for contributing to enterprise-wide continuous improvement. Not easy, but it is possible.