organisations – learn to be proactive
to operationalise learning organisations in practice?
How does a traditional organisation transform into a learning
Proctor and Gamble (P&G) launched Organisation 2005
(O 2005), its most ambitious corporate transformation ever
in spite of making profits in 1997. Organisation 2005 began
with a simple question: "Are we achieving all that
we should be, given the calibre of our organisation?"
The answer was clearly "No!" P&G's sales growth
over the past few years has averaged only about 4% - against
their targeted goal. This prompted them to examine the reasons
for their poor performance.
chartered by P&G's senior leaders focused on global
trends external to P&G, P&G's internal strengths
and improvement areas. Several benchmarking and learning
measures including visits to other companies, educational
and research institutes as well as interviews with P&G
employees at all levels. Company’s senior executives
visited other global companies - such as Hewlett Packard,
General Electric, Coca-Cola and 3M - to understand how they
operate and how they enable their employees to perform at
their best. Thus they embarked on the project of converting
their organisation into a LEARNING ORGANISATION (stretching
change to learning organisation has impacted almost all
of its 100,000 employees. In keeping with the changing business
paradigm P&G shifted the responsibility of managing
brands globally to a newly set up business unit. Overall,
they expecting the Organisation 2005 programme to increase
long-term sales by 6-8% and accelerate core net earnings
per share growth by 13-15% in the next five years. They
also expect to generate annual after-tax earnings of approximately
$900 million by Fiscal 2004. (Www.P&G.com). They were
able to achieve an after tax savings earning of $385 millions
in 1999 (www.equitymaster.com)
organisations are organisations that learn from the external
stimuli and alter their internal framework to suit the opportunities
available. They re-evaluate their goals and at times even
change their work culture and organisational structure to
avail opportunities. There are two stages of evolution in
The first being the single loop or adaptive learning organisations,
where the organisations assimilate new techniques to achieve
their goals effectively and efficiently. The second being
the double loop or generative learning organisations where
the organisations re-evaluate their goals and objectives
to suit the external opportunities. This type of learning
essentially facilitates a change in the organisational culture.
learning organisation is the first stage in a learning organisation.
This effects the organisation’s basic assumptions,
cultural values and organisational structure. In generative
learning organisations a total reframing of the organisation
is carried on. It involves creativity and innovation. It
is being proactive and not reactive.
do these organisations evolve? Change in an organisation
is triggered by the presence of creative tension, which
arises due to the discrepancy between reality and vision
results in continuous questioning and challenging of the
status quo of the organisation. It acts as a motivator of
change. It forces the organisation to embark on a culture
change. It requires teamwork, empowerment and empathy. The
management should provide a proper reward system, which
recognises a shared vision, a holistic view and keeps all
windows open, thus facilitating the evolution of a learning
organisation. This approach also requires a rethinking about
the organisation’s leadership styles.
different categories of learning organisations:
helps them gain an edge over others, as they are ready for
action while others are still trying to adjust. A proactive
organisation is the early bird that catches the worm first.
The opposition to change from within the organisation is also
minimal because it is a part of the culture and the employees
The knowing organisation is the oldest model. They are
successful when the markets are mature and static.
The understanding and thinking organisations are mid range
learning organisations. They change within, their cultural
values and organisations structures limits.
The learning organisations understand change is a part
of their culture. They are harbingers of change
within their industry.
“The characteristics techniques and measures of learning
organisations” in Going beyond total quality by Michael
J Rubach and Paul Marsnik.