Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why Are Learning Organizations So Scarce?

By Pascal Dennis

A billion dollar question...

There are many root causes, which our blog explores at length.

Here's one of the most important:

Our business & professional schools teach us to think in a way inimical to learning.

Here are some of the mental models I picked up at engineering and business schools:
  1. We are very smart and successful

  2. We can manage from a distance, by the numbers

  3. Corollary: What can front line people possibly teach us?

  4. Everything wraps up nicely - just like an MBA case study

  5. Problems are bad things - smart, successful managers like us shouldn't have problems!

  6. If there is a problem, we need to launch an INITIATIVE - the more complex the better

Sadly, the present "splitting" we're seeing in society can reinforce such thinking.

"I am very smart and successful - and I just received a massive bonus to prove it!"


Hubris, disconnection from the front line (where most value is created), apathy & cynicism in the organization.

In other words, an environment that precludes learning.

Don't want to be misunderstood.

People go to professional and business schools with the best of intentions.

To develop their skills, advance their careers and so on.

But we often get more than we bargained for.

The interesting thing is that these mental models are never articulated.

They are in the atmosphere, invisible, accepted and unquestioned.

The great Henry Mintzberg has said that MBA graduates should have a skull & crossbones tattooed to their foreheads.

I've been trying to remove mine for a couple of decades now...



1 comment:

  1. Great Topic, Pascal.
    I am in the process of teaching my son these life lessons. He is currently in Engineering at college and is doing well on every front but the one that seems to matter most in life. I will continue to learn and teach on this front.