POINTS TO PONDER:
"Learning disabilities are tragic in children, but they are fatal in organizations. Because of them, a few corporations live even half as long as a person. Most die before they reach the age of forty" - Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline, a book about building "learning organizations".
The first step in curing learning disabilities is to identify them. Even if you do not feel that you have any problems in your current environment, awareness of these disabilities is important in order to proactively prevent them from occuring further down the road in your professional and personal life.
Peter Senge identified seven learning disabilities in The Fifth Discipline:
1. I am my own position: when people focus only on their position within the organization and have little sense of responsibility for the results produced when all positions interact.
2. The enemy is out there syndrome: when we focus only on our position; we do not see how our own actions extend beyond the boundary of that position.
3. The illusion of taking charge: when we know we should face up to difficult issues, stop waiting for someone else to do something, and solve problems before they grow into crises - but sometimes proactiveness is really reactiveness in disguise.
4. The fixation on events: leads to “event” explanations that are true for what happened most recenly but distract us from seeing the longer-term patterns of change behind these events, and understanding the causes of these patterns.
5. The parable of the boiled frog: the maladaptation of organizations to recognize threats to their surivival that are gradually building - just as the frog placed in a pot of water brought to boiling temperature will not attempt to jump out of the pot, but adjusts to the temperature and slowly dies.
6. The delusion of learning from experience: when our actions have consequences in the distant future or part of the larger operating system, which makes it impossible to learn from direct experience.
7. The myth of the management team: because teams in business tend to spend their time fighting for turf, avoiding anything that will make them look bad personally, and pretending that everyone is behind the team’s collective strategy.
Preventing such learning disabilities from occuring in your own environment requires a different kind of thinking about your role, your team and your actions. What can you do to prevent such learning disabilities from occuring in your own environment?
In 1992, my boss Bob Miller, introduced his staff to Peter Senge's book and the concept of The Learning Organization. It made big impact on some, and from that point on it has guided our work and life philosophy. Since then I have been fortunate to be a member of two Learning Organizations, who produced extraordinary results with great teamwork. The memories of those experiences will last for a lifetime.
* Source of this FR is the book "The Fifth Discipline,The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization" by Peter Senge.