A Learning Organization in a Lightning-Speed Economy: Can This Work?
Staub, Catherine M.
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The problem: The study described and analyzed observations, insights, and recommendations from knowledgeable corporate players concerning how a corporation can more effectively and efficiently plan, implement, and evaluate major change initiatives, and further use their experience gained to enhance the development of a learning organization. Procedures: Twenty respondents who had experience in corporate change initiatives and who formed four knowledge elite groups--executives, project managers, information managers, and consultants-were interviewed using one of four sets of questions. Data was coded and findings developed. Findings: Challenges to develop, implement, sustain, and learn from successful change initiatives stemmed from the fast-paced culture of the organization. To create successful changes, project teams needed time and resources to develop comprehensive, validated solutions, communicate about the change, and remain focused on a change initiative until post-implementation measurements showed that the change had been sustained. To capture and utilize key learnings from changes, experiences needed to be shared beyond the project team, and the organization needed to develop a learning environment. Conclusions: There is tension between a fast-paced organization culture and the complex processes required for successful change. Skipping or rushing steps in a change initiative only undermines the success of the initiative and the chances of a sustained change. Project teams must engage in complex yet practical thinking to develop a solution, and must act as leaders while managing the complexity of an initiative. Communication is critical to the success of a change and to improving organization learning. Reviewing past initiatives and sharing those experiences is essential to improving future initiatives. Recommendations: Further research should explore whether there is a return on investment for providing additional time and resources to thoroughly conduct all processes involved in a successful change initiative, and if there is a return on investment for establishing and utilizing a knowledge management system.
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