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Management practices and tools for enhancing organizational learning capability.

Introduction

Much progress has been made in the field of organizational learning and learning organization, including pioneering work by Argyris and Schon 1978, 1996; Senge 1990; Cyert and March 1963; Levitt and March 1988; Huber 1991; De Geus 1997; and Garvin 1993, 2000. However, enhancing organizational learning capability and building a true learning organization is still a difficult and challenging task. What people need now are practical methods (such as models and corresponding practices/tools) they can apply to enhance their organizational learning capabilities. The purpose of this paper is to provide a new organizational learning system model and a set of specific management practices/tools that are integrated with the model and have been successfully implemented in real companies. The author will first develop a new model of a organizational learning systems, its nine organizational learning sub-systems and capabilities, and then suggest 35 management practices/tools (many accompanied by practical examples) to enhance the nine organizational learning capabilities. Finally, the author will also suggest a concrete 10-step action plan to use to enhance organizational learning capability and build learning organization.

A New Model of Organizational Learning System (OLS) and Nine Organizational Learning Sub-Systems (OLSS)

Scholars have developed various models for organizational learning and learning organization. For example, Senge (1990) put forward five disciplines (personal mastery, mental model, shared vision, team learning and system thinking) for building learning organization. Popper and Lipshitz (1998, 2000a, 2000b) and Lipshitz (2000) view organizational learning from two perspectives: structural and cultural. Peters (1995) suggested six learning syllabuses for building a learning organization (learning about your job and how to do it better, learning how to create alignment in the organization, learning about the future, learning about the operating environment, learning how to challenge the existing paradigms, and developing an organizational memory). Goh (1998) established the strategic building blocks for a learning organization. Argyris and Schon (1978) developed a typical four-phrase process model of organizational learning that views organizational learning as composed of four linear phases: discovery, invention, production and generalization.

These models are well recognized. In this paper, the author tries to contribute to both the theory and practice of organizational learning field by developing an integrated model of an organizational learning system and then presenting some practical management practices and tools to enhance organizational learning capability.

It is logical to define organizational learning before developing a new model. There are various definitions. In general, organizational learning refers to the process that an organization, given its circumstances and culture, uses to build and ameliorate its knowledge and management systems to adapt and compete by using some tools and methods (Argyris and Schon 1978, 1996). Drawing on this definition, the author proposes the following: Organizational learning refers to the process through which an organization continuously acquires new knowledge and adjusts in order to successfully adapt to external and internal environmental changes and to maintain sustainable existence and development.

This definition emphasizes that: (1) Organizational learning has two dimensions, cognitive (acquiring new knowledge) and behavioral (adjusting to change); (2) The ultimate purpose is for an organization to successfully adapt to environmental changes, continue to exist, and develop; (3) Learning is continuous.

Like several scholars (Nevis, DiBella and Gould 1995), the author also views organizational learning from the perspective of system. It is proposed here that every organization possesses an organizational learning system (OLS) composed of several sub-systems (OLSS). Building on the above new definition, the following definition of organizational learning system (OLS) is developed: Organizational learning system (OLS) is embedded in an organization's human resources, structure, process, policy, and culture. Obviously, the greater the capability of an organization's OLS (or organizational learning capability), the greater the possibility that it will maintain sustainable existence and development. Every organization possesses its own OLS, but their capabilities differ.

Based on this definition of organizational learning and organizational learning system (OLS), and the following detailed analysis of theoretical literature and practical examples, it is proposed here that OLS is composed of the following nine organizational learning subsystems (OLSS), as depicted in Figure 1: (1) "Discovering" sub-system (D-OLSS), (2) "Innovating" sub-system (I-OLSS), (3) "Selecting" sub-system (S-OLSS), (4) "Executing" subsystem (E-OLSS), (5) "Transferring" sub-system (T-OLSS), (6) "Reflecting" sub-system (R-OLSS), (7) "Acquiring knowledge from environment" sub-system (A-OLSS), (8) "Contributing knowledge to environment" sub-system (C-OLSS), and (9) "Building organizational memory" sub-system (B-OLSS). The rationale and basis for each OLSS is described as follows.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

* The rationale and basis for the nine OLSSs

(1) "Discovering" sub-system (D-OLSS) As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said in B.C. 500, "You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing on," the world is changing every moment. The basic reason for an organization to learn comes from changes in its external and internal environment. However, in reality, people in an organization may not be aware of the changes. It is, therefore, essential for an organization to build a discovering system that enables it to sense and monitor changes, problems, challenges, and opportunities in its internal and external environment, and that provides early warning signals to shifting trends (Morgan, 1996). Only through conscious and systematic monitoring and analysis can an organization retain its sensitivity to environmental changes. The sense-making process emphasized by Weick (2001) is also important for building an organizational discovering system, which is the precondition for learning to happen in an organization.

Excellent companies are sensitive to various emerging changes. De Geus (1997) writes, "Long-lived companies were sensitive to their environment. Whether they had built their fortunes on knowledge (such as DuPont's technological innovations) or on natural resources (such as the Hudson Bay Company's access to the furs of Canadian forests), they remained in harmony with the world around them ... Yet they managed to react in timely fashion to the conditions of society around them." Some examples: P&G (China) sends employees to live with typical Chinese families to obtain information on changes in their washing habits. McDonalds (China) has been investigating the changes of the Chinese food culture in order to adapt its services to the requirements of Chinese customers. In the China's Legend Computer Company, special employees are assigned to research the Internet for data and other benchmarks that may influence the development of the company. Often, Legend purchases data from IDG (International Data Group) for better decision-making. GE established a learning culture called "learning from your employees."

(2) "Innovating" sub-system (I-OLSS)

Obviously, it is not enough for an organization to discover various kinds of changes: it has to find new ways to deal with them. In The Living Company, De Geus (1997) says, "Either as individuals or as a community, the species has the capacity (or at least the potential) to invent new behavior. They can develop skills that allow them to exploit their environment in new ways." In order for an organization to survive and develop, it must build up core competencies and develop new products and services, thereby focusing on improving management process and systems (Prahalad and Hamel 1990). Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) emphasized that companies should be knowledge-creating, While Hargadon (2000) stressed that a company becomes an innovation factory.

Many companies designate "innovation" as an important element of their core values. For example, 3M declares that it "never kills a new product idea." The tremendous success of P&G in Chinese market can be attributed to its frequent and timely product innovations. GE usually encourages its employees to do things in a different way, requiring all employees to attend a "Six Sigma" training course and use the principles and methods to improve the quality of their daily work. Six-Sigma requires everyone to innovate in his or her own way to achieve progress. To monitor the achievements, employees hand in a report every year. Motorola (China) encourages its employees to form teams to think about how to improve work processes and systems to increase quality and productivity. TCS (total customer satisfaction) teams and TFE (teaming for excellence) teams have contributed significantly to Motorola's success in China.

(3) "Selecting" sub-system (S-OLSS)

In addition to discovering and innovating, an organization must build up a system that enables it to make the right choices among innovative ideas. An organization should develop sound selecting methodologies, processes, activities, and capabilities, so that optimal business decision can be achieved and more qualified and suitable people can be recruited and promoted. According to Darwin's theory, the development of any species is the consequence of external environmental selection. Levinthal (1991) studied the relationship between organizational adaptation and environmental selection. It is proposed here that, only when there is an internal selecting system for optimization, can an organization build the capacity to adapt to external environmental selection and maintain competitive advantage. "Selecting" also means "unlearning" in that an organization should discard inappropriate ways (even if successful in the past) and impractical ideas (even though sounding attractive for the future). Sound selection mechanisms and systems can help an organization remain young, energetic and wise.

Today's organizations live in an age of information explosion and globalization, and face an extraordinary amount of opportunity and temptation. Making the right decisions is crucial.

Here are some examples of selection mechanisms. Microsoft may assign two teams to develop the same product at the same time, select the best ideas from each team, and finally integrate them as the final new product decision. In China's Haier Company, all internal management positions are open for public competition, so people inside or outside the company have chance to get the positions. A recruiting team assesses the candidates and votes on them. GE has a performance evaluation system, which determines rewards promotions and training. GE and just about every company in the U.S. have performance evaluations.

(4) "Executing" sub-system (E-OLSS)

Organizational learning can occur only when the newly selected ideas can be put into practice effectively. Organizational learning not only includes changes of perception and thinking (such as discovering, innovating and selecting), but also changes of behavior. No action means no real learning. However, executing new ideas is not easy. Pfeffer and Sutton (2000) found a widespread knowing-doing gap. Watkins and Bazerman (2003) also coined the term "predictable surprise" and argued that one reason why "predictable surprise" happened in some organizations (such as collapses of Enron and WorldCom) and countries (such as 9/11 in U.S.) was not because people had not "discovered" the signals to the disasters, but because of inaction! So, some researchers are very concerned about how to turn knowledge into action (Pfeffer and Sutton 2000; Bossidy and Charan 2002). The "executing" sub-system is very important for organizational learning. The successful organization is the one that can make things happen and use knowledge learned to make a difference.

For example, Six Sigma is difficult to implement but was successful at GE due to Jack Welch's strong commitment, reform of corporate evaluation, incentive and promotion systems, and major cultural change. To effectively implement an employee suggestion system called IR ("I Recommend"), Tianjin Manufacturing Plant of Motorola (China) set up an IR committee that reviews all the recommendations on a monthly basis, gives feedback, rewards the contributing employees, and celebrates the success of the system. This employee suggestion system is more successful than those in other companies because it has an effective executing system.

(5) "Transferring" sub-system (T-OLSS)

The activities of "discovering," "innovating," "selecting," and "executing" may take place locally in an organization (for example, with an individual, team or department). To realize organizational learning individual and team learning should each be transferred to larger entities (Edmondson 2002). Best ideas, practices, and experience obtained by individuals, teams, or departments should be transferred to the rest of the organization. This is not easy. Edmondson (1999) found that psychological safety is crucial for transferring individual learning to teams. Ancona and Caldwell (1992) found that sometimes groups could not communicate with others in the organization. Edmondson (2002) concluded that learning in organizations often remains local--driven by goals and concerns of individuals and groups serving. However, researchers have focused on the obstacles. Senge (1990) believed that dialogue is a good technique for transferring individual learning to teams. Kim (1993) developed a model that links individual and organizational learning through mental models. Edmondson (2002) tried to link team learning to organizational learning by pointing out that different teams may have different roles that still serve the whole organization. Some teams did the radical learning such as producing new ideas and capabilities, and other teams did incremental learning such as improving efficiency and quality. Carlile (2002) also studied bow knowledge is transferred across boundaries during new product development. It is proposed here that establishing transferring sub-system is crucial to implementing organizational learning.

Good companies are good at transferring experience and knowledge within the organization. For instance, Xerox encourages each maintenance worker to keep a work diary of major issues encountered during maintenance work for customers. These journal entries are then available through a company-wide Intranet. Maintenance workers are able to solve similar problems more effectively and efficiently since they can access the database and share their peers' experiences and knowledge. This is an example of individual knowledge being transferred to the whole organization. The next example of departmental knowledge being transferred to the organization is taken from China's Legend Company. A product division of Legend organized a team to solve the problem of sales forecasting inaccuracy for the division. After conducting a comprehensive investigation and analysis, the team proposed that the previous "top-down" forecasting approach should be replaced with a "bottom-up" model. To be specific, local distributors in different districts of China should first make their own sales forecasts for the next year. Then, the division at the headquarters would collect all local forecast data, analyze it and make some adjustments, and finally decide on forecast for the whole division. Because this approach fully exploits each local distributor's knowledge about local market, it is more accurate. The new forecasting model has improved the effectiveness and efficiency of the division. Finally, Legend's CEO decided to transfer the new model to all other product divisions, so that the departmental best practices and knowledge could be shared with the whole company.

(6) "Reflecting" sub-system (R-OLSS)

The reason to build a "reflecting" sub-system is for an organization to learn from its past experience. It doesn't matter whether the experience was successful or unsuccessful, the organization can still use this formal reflecting sub-system to make better decision for the future. Reflecting means not only "learning from failure" or "failure is the mother of success," but also "learning from success" or "success is the mother of failure." However, learning from experience is not easy, as researchers have pointed out (Argyris and Schon 1978, 1996; March, Sproull and Tamuz 1991; Carroll, Rudolph and Hatakenaka 2002; Garvin 2000; Edmondson 1996; Isaacs 1993; Haunschild and Sullivan 2002; Russo and Schoemaker 1990). Argyris and Schon (1978, 1996) introduced the concept of single and double-loop learning. Single-loop learning occurs when the problem is corrected by altering behavior or actions to meet organizational norms, goals, values, and assumptions. It involves detecting problems without questioning underlying policies and methods. Double-loop learning occurs when the underlying values are changed and new actions follow. It involves questioning and changing governing conditions or values and testing the assumptions underlying what is being done. Goals, norms and assumptions are also changeable. Isaacs (1993) introduced "triple-loop learning," which refers to examining the way in which one learns. Haunschild and Sullivan (2002) studied how U.S. airline firms learned from prior accidents and incidents. Variation in firm learning was investigated by examining whether firms learn more from errors with heterogeneous or homogeneous causes. Here, learning was measured by a reduction in airline accident and incident rates. It was found that heterogeneity was generally better for learning, as prior heterogeneity in the causes of errors decreases subsequent accident rates, producing a deeper, broader search for causality than simple explanations like "blame the pilot."

There are some practical examples here. AAR (After Action Review) is used to analyze the result of every action. In certain situations, reflecting and reviewing can lead to improvement for next time. According to Garvin (2000), the U.S. Army has established the reflecting system as part of its culture. The discussion during the AAR process always revolves around four questions: What did we plan to do? What actually happened? Why did it happen? What are we going to do next time? Another example is Moroan Stanley is successful implementation of a firm-wide 360-degree performance evaluation system for employees. The feedback for each employee is solicited from superiors, peers, subordinates, and "internal clients." The objective of the annual evaluation process is to give every employee quality performance feedback and the potential for continuous learning and personal development.

(7) "Acquiring knowledge from environment" sub-system (A-OLSS)

To survive, an organization should be an open system with a continuous exchange of energy as well as information and knowledge between it and its environment. This acquiring system is crucial for an organization's ability to learn faster and build competitive advantage, especially in a new environment. Zellner and Fornahl (2002) believe that in a fast-changing, innovative environment, organizations should establish three kinds of knowledge acquisition channels: the recruitment of people, extemal informal networks of employees, and formal cooperation of the firm with other institutional agents. Inkpen (1999) found that the joint venture was becoming an increasingly important organizational form in international business, creating valuable opportunities for acquisition of knowledge. Tsang (2002) studied over 100 international companies in Singapore and Hong Kong and found that these companies acquired knowledge from their counterparts through the channels of both the overseeing effort and management involvement. Vermeulen and Barkema (2001) even emphasized learning through acquisitions. Cohen and Levinthal (2000) emphasized not only getting information and knowledge from outside, but also the firm's absorptive capacity-ability to assimilate and apply learning for commercial purposes.

GE was a good example of acquiring knowledge from other companies. GE is known for its Six Sigma quality program, but GE first learned it from Allied Signal and Motorola, and then implemented it very well. In the 1980s, GE funded research by a group of leading international business schools to look at examples of change and understand why the change was successful or not. From this research, GE and the business schools obtained what they called "The principles of successful change." GE created the change acceleration process model and related tools. These tools can help people in the company to pay attention to the factors that are important for achieving successful change. These two examples are evidence of Jack Welch's philosophy that all the knowledge in this world may "belong to" GE, which will acquire it as long as it is useful. It doesn't matter who invents it or where.

(8) "Contributing knowledge to environment" sub-system (C-OLSS)

Not only should organization acquire knowledge from outside, but also contribute to the outside. For some organizations, such as universities, schools, consulting companies, and so on, providing knowledge service is the reason for their existence. Other organizations such as manufacturing firms do this, too. Contributing knowledge can improve an organization's reputation, and, from the perspective of learning, can give the organization chance to receive feedback from outside about its own management and performance. An organization will never be a real learning organization unless it can contribute learning and knowledge to society. However, few Western literatures address how an organization can enhance its learning capability through contributing knowledge to environment. Chinese traditional philosophy, however, emphasizes that one must first contribute something (including knowledge) to other people before taking it from them. So, if an organization wants to continuously acquire knowledge from outside, it should have the willingness and ability to contribute.

There are some examples. Motorola (China) has greatly improved its employees' awareness and ability to make continuous quality improvements by various means. Internal quality management, Six Sigma, employee training programs, and annual Total Customer Satisfaction / Teaming for Excellence competitions all fall into this category. Motorola extended almost all of these quality programs and initiatives to its suppliers in China. Motorola (China) believed that the quality of its products could not be guaranteed unless the quality of its suppliers' products was guaranteed. Motorola (China) passed on much knowledge to its suppliers and helped them improve product quality very fast. It also learned a lot and received good management suggestions from its suppliers. Here, learning was extended from one organization to others. Another example is NASA, whose mission is to explore outer space for mankind. However, it doesn't forget to educate people. It has developed many programs and activities to contribute its knowledge to the public, including a Web site, site tours, magazines, films, and different kinds of simulations (such as ride). From the perspective of contributing knowledge to its environment, Disneyland's business is not only entertainment but also contributing knowledge (such as science, technology, space, film and so on) to people, especially children, by means of entertainment.

(9) "Building organizational memory" subsystem (B-OLSS)

So far, we have discussed eight sub-systems of organizational learning. The last but not the least is the "building organizational memory" subsystem. (Cross and Baird 2000; Hansen, Nohria and Tierney 1999; Nonaka and Takeuchi 1995; Peters 1995) which helps an organization accumulate knowledge from and export it to the eight subsystems described previously. Peters (1995) put forward six learning syllabi, one of which is "developing an organizational memory--the ability to capture, store, and retrieve knowledge and expertise." Hansen, Nohria and Tierney (1999) identified two kinds of knowledge management methods. One is codification, which means knowledge is carefully codified and stored in a database, where it can be accessed and used easily by anyone in the company. Ernst and Young adopt this strategy. The other is personalization in which knowledge is closely tied to the person who developed it and is shared mainly through person-to-person contacts. Bain, Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey emphasize this strategy.

Just as a computer cannot solve complicated problems without a memory, a person cannot absorb intricate knowledge without a brain (memory). Similarly, with the growing complexity of the environment, organizational memory is increasingly needed for continuous learning. While knowledge generated by the eight subsystems is stored in organizational memory, the stored knowledge will also affect the eight subsystems. If an organization fails to establish organizational memory to retain knowledge, the loss is great--organizational learning cannot be a constantly upgraded and further learning cannot occur. Good experience cannot be exploited and failure may be repeated.

Many large companies, such as P&G, Motorola, HE and China's Legend have established convenient Intranet and e-learning systems by taking advantage of their knowledge databases. Harvard Business School and the Harvard Business School Press are excellent examples of building organizational knowledge memory--the famous case database. Professors in the Business School study the most recent cases (best practices or typical problems in real world), and write them down in the form of cases, teaching notes, and papers. These materials are stored, classified, and managed for students to learn from and educators to use in their teaching and studies all over the world. This knowledge database makes both Harvard Institutions competitive and able to sustain development in the field of management education in the world.

* Description of the functions and capabilities of the nine organizational learning subsystems (OLSS)

To use the organizational learning system model efficiently, the author has developed formal descriptions of the functions and capabilities of each of the nine sub-systems (OLSSs) in Table 1.

* Four propositions based on the OLS model

The author proposes that in today's complex and dynamic environment, organizational learning capability is vital to sustainable existence and development. It is proposed that the higher the capability of each organizational learning subsystem (OLSS), the greater the possibility for the organization to exist and develop. It is also proposed that the nine OLSS may positively correlate with each other. The following four propositions are developed:

Proposition 1: An OLS is composed of nine sub-systems including discovering, innovating, selecting, executing, transferring, reflecting, acquiring knowledge from environment, contributing knowledge to environment and building organizational memory, as described in Figure 1.

Proposition 2: Each of the nine is positively correlated with organizational sustainable existence and development.

Proposition 3: Each positively correlates with the others.

Proposition 4: To improve the capability of an organizational learning system as a whole, it is necessary to make the nine OLSSs match each other to achieve synergy among them.

Further empirical study is needed to test all these propositions.

Key Management Practices/Tools Facilitating Nine (OLSSs)

Now we will explore a more practical question: what are some major management practices/ tools that can facilitate use of the nine OLSSs or enhance their learning capabilities? In this section, we will discuss 35 management practices/tools that have been successfully used by companies. Table 2 lists all 35 tools and their effects on each OLSS. To help managers make appropriate choices.

It should be pointed out that the relationship between each management practice/tool and each OLSS listed in Table 2 is qualitatively proposed based on the definition on the function or capability of each OLSS and the role each tool can play. Space constraints limit our ability to detail why one management/tool affects some OLSSs rather than others. Future empirical study should explore the proposed relationships.

(1) Management practices/tools facilitating discovering-OLSS

Employee survey system. An organization must develop various methods for listening to and getting information from stakeholders--employees, customers, suppliers, rivals, other industries, relevant national and international organizations, and so on. Furthermore, it needs to adopt various analytical tools for further data analysis and then discover the emerging changes, problems, challenges and opportunities in its internal and external environment. An employee survey system is a major way to get information on potential internal problems, employees' satisfaction, and their suggestions or ideas. For example, Ericsson's and GE's human resource management departments use this system annually.

In addition to discovering-OLSS, employee surveys also facilitate innovating-OLSS.

Customer survey system. Similarly, by using a customer survey system, an organization can get information on customer's potential problems, satisfaction, and suggestions. For example, P&G's marketing department uses this system continuously to determine customers' satisfaction and needs. To effectively use the customer survey system, an organization should develop more channels and relationships to get valid customer information, build trust between the company and its customers, possess sound analytical tools and talents, and distribute the survey results to all related departments for decision-making.

In addition to discovering-OLSS, customer surveys also facilitate innovating and acquiring-OLSS.

Scenario planning. In scenario planning, a group of people (such as executives) try to foresee the future through multiple windows and try to figure out different strategies under different (especially unfavorable) scenarios. For example, in the 1970s, before the oil crisis, Royal Dutch/Shell had developed this system of scenario planning. It has consistently anticipated price drops better than other oil companies, and it coped with overcapacity in oil shipping in the early 1980s far better than its rivals. Industry analysts consider it one of the best-managed oil companies (Russo and Schoemaker 1990).

In addition to discovering-OLSS, scenario planning also facilitates innovating-OLSS.

(2) Management practices/tools facilitating innovating-OLSS

TCS (Total Customer Satisfaction). Classical organization theories believe that decision-making and execution should be divided. The decision-makers are in charge of innovative ideas that will be executed by frontline employees. This point of view regards management rather than employees as the major force for innovation. Obviously, this is not reality. In many circumstances, it is the frontline employees who really know the demands of customers and problems of operational process. They have more critical information and ideas about innovation. A real learning organization should make every employee the entity of learning and innovation. There are many examples, such as Total Quality Management started in many Japanese companies in the 1980s, the TCS (Total Customer Satisfaction), TFE (Teaming For Excellence) and IR (I Recommend) at Motorola in the 1990s, work-out movement in GE, LTQ (Leading Through Quality) in Xerox, Idea Box in HP, and so on. All these initiatives make employees the source of learning and innovation.

Motorola started TCS in the early 1990s. TCS encourages employees to form teams, find problems, and think about how to improve product quality and productivity everyday and everywhere. Each team makes suggestions and gets support from higher-ranked managers during the teamwork session. Every year, there are TCS team competitions nationwide and worldwide. The TCS teams also share their experiences and knowledge during the competition.

The following is an example: A team nicknamed ROOTS represents the company's pager manufacturing plant in Tianjin, China. They were champions of Motorola's 1998 Super Bowl. ROOTS impressed the judges with its efforts to boost the local content of paging devices produced in Tianjin. Representing the sourcing-operation unit, they employed three basic strategies to help develop 63 local supplier companies: providing "cross-sector" support for existing suppliers; relocating high-tech suppliers to China; and finding and developing new local suppliers. These strategies reduced procurement time, shortened total cycle time, and improved efficiency for the company.

In addition to innovating-OLSS, TCS also facilitates discovering, selecting, executing, transferring and reflecting-OLSS.

TFE (Teaming For Excellence). In recent years, after huge successes in the TCS team movement, Motorola found that most of its TCS teams were composed of people from the same division. To further push the Six-Sigma initiative, it needed cross-functional cooperation. Therefore, Motorola started a new program called TFE (Teaming For Excellence) that focuses on and encourages cross-functional cooperation to reduce inter-departmental transaction costs and facilitate coordination and cooperation.

In addition to innovating-OLSS, TFE also facilitates discovering, selecting, executing, transferring and reflecting-OLSS.

Work-Out. Work-out is another way to get ideas and suggestions from everyone in GE. Jack Welch believes that people who work in the frontline know the job best, and empowerment and delegation should be the major way GE motivates its people. Managers just give direction, provide resources and support, and each employee has full responsibility for his or her job. Work-out started in 1989, and its essence is to involve everyone (such as workers, secretaries, engineers, office managers, chairman, and so on). The main purpose is to kick out the "Big Boss." Jack Welch was trying to redefine the concept of "management" and make "listening to the employee" become a critical part of the manager's job. This initiative builds up the confidence of employees and encourages them to solve problems in their own ways. It also creates a culture of speed and simplicity. Even now, Work-out is one of the key management tools for GE. Jack Welch says "the distilled essence of competitiveness is the reservoir of talent and creativity and energy that can be found in each of our people. The essence is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important--and then get out of their way while they do it."

Work-out is operated as follows: the business leader designates one department or business unit to do work-out at one time, send letters to explain the session schedule, and decide on a dress code for meetings. A group of 40-50 invitees stay at a hotel for about three days, and a person called the facilitator breaks the ice, if necessary, to keep the work-out session moving along and encourage people to speak out. On the first day, the business leader or some other senior member of the business (the boss) describes the particular business and its strengths and weaknesses and explains how that business fits into GE's overall strategy. Then the business leader leaves for the following two days to let the people discuss freely. The facilitator then breaks the group into four smaller groups. They are asked to evaluate four aspects of their businesses: reports, meetings, measurements, and approvals. The small groups continue to discuss during the first and second days, and converge on the third day. They come up with a proposal collectively which will be presented to the boss. Only in the last hours of the third day does the boss reappear. Employees read their proposals and the boss must respond on the spot. The boss says "yes," "no," or asks for more information, but must then authorize a team to get that information and respond within a month. Four out of the five proposals may be routinely approved by the boss on the spot. After the session, someone will be assigned to put all proposals in a memo to distribute to all participants, who have to certify that it accurately reflects what transpired at the final session with the boss. The memo will also be circulated to everyone in the business. Each proposal contains specific action items with a clear time line, and the group has the task of following up to make sure that each deadline is met.

In addition to innovating-OLSS, work-out also facilitates discovering, selecting, executing, transferring and reflecting-OLSS.

"I Recommend" / "Idea Box." "I Recommend" or "Idea Box" is a way to get employees' ideas and suggestions. At Motorola (China), in order to implement the "I Recommend" system effectively, management set up a special committee composed of union employee representatives and top management executives. First, the committee evaluates all the suggestions from employees on a monthly basis and gives feedback to the person who has submitted a suggestion; then, the committee decides who receives an award; and finally the committee organizes an activity to celebrate the achievements of "I Recommend" on a company-wide level. HP had a similar practice titled "Idea Box."

In addition to innovating-OLSS, I Recommend also facilitates discovering-OLSS.

System thinking. Generally speaking, people see things partially, locally, and incompletely. When something changes and problems arise, people usually look for local and temporary solutions. To build a learning organization, people need to have the big picture in mind, namely, system thinking, in Senge's word. Systemic thinking is a conceptual framework, a body of knowledge and tools that have been developed over the past 60 years. To make patterns clearer and help us see how to change them more effectively, broader knowledge of a larger system gives us abilities to learn and innovate (Senge, 1990). Senge has developed some "systems archetypes" such as "drifting goals," "escalation," "fixes that fail," "growth and underinvestment," "limits to success," "shifting the burden/addiction," "success to the successful," and "tragedy of the commons." These systems archetypes have been adopted by some famous companies such as Royal Dutch/ Shell and BP.

In addition to innovating-OLSS, system thinking also facilitates discovering, selecting, executing, transferring, and reflecting-OLSS.

Reverse thinking. Deduction is used to reason from the general to the specific. While it is important to honor the theoretical achievement of former generations, it might stifle innovation. Reverse thinking refers to putting forward new ideas in anti-traditional ways. For example, when Michael Dell created his computer company, he rejected the idea that a company has to establish different distribution channels to deliver products to customers. Instead he created the business model that sells products to customers directly. This model reduces transaction costs and also allows the company to communicate with customers directly, thereby being more effective and efficient in meeting individualized need. Traditionally, business magazines in China prefer to study cases of successful companies. However, Entrepreneur Magazine chooses to study failures. As a result, the magazine quickly became popular because business people wanted to learn from other companies' failures and improve their own companies. Another example is China's Haier Group, whose clothes washers have been sold in Sichuan (an agriculture-dominated province in China) for many years. Usually peasants use the washers to wash clothes, but some used them to wash potatoes. They criticized the Haier Group because the clothes washers did not clean potatoes well. Normally, companies would regard this kind of feedback as "unreasonable" or "ridiculous." However, Haier saw a new market opportunity and quickly developed a potato washer.

In addition to innovating-OLSS, reverse thinking also facilitates discovering, selecting, and reflecting-OLSS.

Dialectical thinking. When people detect problems and look for solutions, they usually tend to think from only one perspective. In contrast, dialectical thinking is a way in which people think both the positive and negative sides of something. Its philosophy lies in the belief that phenomenon implies and generates its opposite. The existence of one side defines and depends on the existence of the other. This idea can be traced back to ancient Chinese Taoist philosophy, which has long emphasized how the way of nature (the word Tao means "way") is characterized by a continuous flux and wholeness shaped by the dynamic interplay of yin (meaning the negative) and yang (meaning the positive). It is also believed that all trends eventually reverse themselves (Morgan, 1996). For example, in the West, classical scientific management theory emphasizes division of labor, specialization, and control. Modern management theory emphasizes teamwork, multi-skills, and empowerment. Western countries have exported products, technology, and management knowledge to Eastern countries for many years, and Eastern countries have learned a lot from the West. Now, many Western countries have become more aware of learning from the Eastern world (for example, Japanese quality management in the 1980s and Chinese traditional management philosophy now) with an emphasis on corporate culture and other management-related ancient philosophy and practices. The ultimate arrow of every change is toward the neutral point between the two extremes. With the process of dialectical thinking, we could do a better job in innovation.

In addition to innovating-OLSS, dialectical thinking also facilitates discovering, selecting, and reflecting-OLSS.

Dialog. Teamwork is a potential mechanism for innovation because it brings people with different backgrounds and views together. On one hand, different points of view may collide, but will stimulate creativity and innovation on the other hand. However, a team is not an automatic mechanism for innovation. Senge (1990) points out that, sometimes, a team of managers with IQs of above 120 may have a collective IQ of 63. Therefore, it is important for team members to know how to learn and innovate together. One of the five disciplines of learning organizations is team learning, which emphasizes "dialog" instead of "discussion." Dialog is a process during which team members suspend assumptions and enter into a genuine "thinking together" (Senge 1990). The team is the fundamental learning unit in modern organizations; therefore, many companies adopt concurrent engineering practices and cross-functional teams rather than the traditional functional organization to stimulate innovation in new product development. Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) also point out the importance of teamwork for creating new product knowledge.

In addition to innovating-OLSS, dialog also facilitates transferring-OLSS.

(3) Management practices/tools facilitating selecting-OLSS

Optimal decision-making. An organization should embed a selection mechanism into its decision-making system. For example, we may use brainstorming, Delphi, or NGT (Nominal Group Technique) methods to avoid domination or "groupthink" during the team decision-making process. Some behavioral norms should also be established for management decision-making. For example, at Amoco (now acquired by Exxon), there are 12 rules for team meetings and decision-making. The purpose is to let new ideas and different perspectives come out naturally and then select the better ones.

Optimal decision-making facilitates selecting-OLSS.

Open competition for jobs and promotions. The policy of open competition for jobs and promotions provides every employee with equal opportunity to develop, and is a good mechanism for--making good choices and decisions for recruitment and promotion. For example, in China's Haier Company, each job or promotion opportunity is open to both internal and external competition.

Open competition facilitates selecting-OLSS.

(4) Management practices/tools facilitating executing-OLSS

CAP (Change Acceleration Process). As mentioned, in the 1980s, GE funded research through a group of leading international business schools and created the CAP (Change Acceleration Process) model. Sun Microsystems Inc. got a license from GE several years ago. The CAP model is a series of steps and a portfolio of tools that enable change to be implemented successfully in an organization. It is an approach to managing change that focuses on the acceptance of change by people throughout the organization. The tools are practical and flexible; one tool may be used at any time according to need, and it is not always necessary to proceed in a linear and sequential manner. The CAP model has different sections and corresponding tools. The sections include "Mobilized Commitment," "Focused Leadership," "Compelling Business Need," "Shared Future State," "Map the Transition," "Engage Support and Resistance," and "Integrate the Change." The tools includes "Stakeholder Action Plan," "External/Internal Leadership Focus," "T.O.P," "Vision Affinity," "Context/Culture," "Transition Map," "Communication Plan," "Partnership Building," "Risk Assessment," "Ladder of Inference," "More of/ Less of," "Helping/Hindering," and "System of Sustained Change." In GE and Sun, training courses on CAP are available to managers, and many change initiatives have been successfully implemented by means of CAP.

In addition to executing-OLSS, CAP also facilitates selecting-OLSS.

PDD (Planning and Development Discussion). Ericsson initiated PDD (Planning and Development Discussion) in the 1990s as a basic tool for managers to use in developing competence. It is also to promote job rotation, giving and receiving feedback, and recognition. It differs from a "normal conversation" in being well prepared and carried out in a peaceful, relaxed and undisturbed environment. The PDD requires great engagement on part of the employee and the manager. During the PDD, the manager goes through tasks, responsibilities, and personal development with the employee from the present situation to the next period. The most important purposes are to: (a) give a performance assessment for the last period, (b) agree on objectives and activities for the next period, (c) define the employee's competence gap in the position, and (d) define the development needs required by job and actions to be taken during the next period. Ericsson requires every manager to engage in PDD with his or her subordinates at least quarterly. To implement PDD successfully in the whole company, Ericsson provides specific guidelines for managers on the objectives, description of PDD, the difference between a PDD and a "normal conversation," the content of discussion, when to have a PDD, specific tips on how to conduct a PDD, and how to follow-up after the PDD.

In addition to executing-OLSS, PPD facilitates discovering and reflecting-OLSS.

(5) Management practices/tools facilitating transferring-OLSS

Internal benchmarking and best practice sharing. Internal benchmarking and best practice sharing is a process through which an organization compares its different groups or individuals in terms of management practice and performance and diffuses the best practices to the whole organization through various means. For example, ABB Company has established functional councils (such as marketing, manufacturing, purchasing, and so on) to capture best practices in different functions and transfer them to the whole ABB Company. In some companies, such as Motorola, internal training programs are arranged to share best experiences among employees and departments.

In addition to transferring-OLSS, internal benchmarking facilitates discovering-OLSS.

Mentor system. Mentor systems are widely adopted in McKinsey Company. When a new graduate comes in, a senior and experienced consultant will serve as a mentor to help him or her to understand the culture of the company, ways of working, and tips for high work performance.

Mentoring facilitates transferring-OLSS.

Job rotation. Job rotation policy gives people chance to work at different places. It has been a popular practice in many Japanese companies, and has transferred to western organizations. For example, At GE, people are encouraged to move from one function to another, from one business to the next, and from one city to another. Very few senior managers at GE come from one single function. Normally they work in each function for one year, then move to another, and enter another business for a year in order to know how each function works. They can understand how to maximize synergies among different departments through cooperation. This system also explains different career options and paths to employees in order for them to understand the big picture. By rotating jobs and getting to know other job options, employees grow even faster and contribute more to the organization as a whole.

In addition to transferring-OLSS, job rotation facilitates executing-OLSS.

(6) Management practices/tools facilitating reflecting-OLSS

AAR (After Action Review). AAR helps people learn from every action. In certain situations, reflecting and reviewing can lead to improvement. According to Garvin (2000), the U.S. Army is one of the few organizations to have institutionalized these reflections. The discussion during the AAR process always revolves around the following four questions: What did we plan to do? What actually happened? Why did it happen? What are we going to do next time?

In addition to reflecting-OLSS, AAR facilitates innovating-OLSS.

360-degree performance evaluation system. Using a 360-degree performance evaluation system, organization can show people how their work performance is viewed from different people's perspectives and get others' suggestions. This helps them to reflect on past experiences and learn how to make improvements in the future. For example, Morgan Stanley uses 360-degree system to evaluate its professional employees every year.

In addition to reflecting-OLSS, the 360 evaluation facilitates innovating-OLSS.

(7) Management practices/tools facilitating acquiring knowledge-OLSS

External benchmarking. External benchmarking is a process through which an organization compares itself with external organizations in terms of management practice and organizational performance, studies other organizations' best practices intensively, and tries to apply them in its own organization. For example, Xerox and Motorola have been doing very well in benchmarking.

In addition to acquiring-OLSS, external benchmarking facilitates discovering and innovating-OLSS.

Recruiting talent from outside. An organization can recruit experienced and knowledgeable talents from outside to acquire necessary knowledge. Many Chinese Universities recruited overseas scholars to speed their development after the Chinese government's policy of opening to the outside world.

In addition to acquiring-OLSS, it also facilitates discovering and innovating -OLSS.

External advisory group. An organization can acquire knowledge by establishing an external advisory group that may be composed of experts who give advice on a regular basis. University professors, consultants, business leaders and so on can be invited to the external advisory group.

In addition to acquiring-OLSS, external advisory groups facilitate discovering and innovating-OLSS.

Employing external consulting. An organization can acquire knowledge by employing external scholars and consultants. In addition to acquiring-OLSS, this also facilitates discovering and innovating -OLSS.

Attending external training programs. An organization can acquire knowledge by inviting outside experts to give training courses or by sending people to other universities or companies to study. Many managers attend executive education programs.

In addition to acquiring-OLSS, this approach facilitates discovering and innovating -OLSS.

Searching external knowledge. Organizations should pay a lot of attention to searching for necessary information and knowledge from different kinds of media (such as books, journals, magazines, newspapers, Web sites, research companies, and so on).

In addition to acquiring-OLSS, external knowledge facilitates discovering and innovating -OLSS.

Collaboration, joint venture, or strategic alliance. Through collaboration, joint venture, or strategic alliance, an organization can acquire knowledge from and contribute knowledge to its partners. More and more Western and Eastern companies collaborate to do business in the global market, for example, GM and Chinese Shanghai Automobile Works, Volkswagen and Chinese First Automobile Works, and so on.

In addition to acquiring-OLSS, these alliances facilitate discovering, innovating and contributing-OLSS.

Mutual exchange activities. Through mutual exchange activities such as meetings, exhibitions, workshops, site visiting, and so on, an organization can acquire knowledge from and contribute knowledge to outside.

In addition to acquiring-OLSS, mutual exchange facilitates discovering, innovating and contributing-OLSS.

(8) Management practices/tools facilitating contributing knowledge-OLSS

Providing training programs to outside. An organization can provide training programs to transfer knowledge to the outside. For example, GE has provided training courses for foreign senior managers during recent years.

In addition to contributing-OLSS, these programs facilitate discovering, innovating and acquiring-OLSS.

Publishing organizational management experience. An organization can study its own history, experiences, and lessons, and then publish them in the form of articles, papers, and books. It can also invite university professors to study and write up its typical cases and get them published as study material for university students. For example, several books about GE and Jack Welch have been published during recent years. China's Legend and Hair Company also became cases for Harvard Business School several years ago.

In addition to contributing-OLSS, publishing facilitates reflecting-OLSS.

Consulting for outside organizations. An organization can transfer its knowledge especially to other organizations by means of consulting. HP and IBM not only provide products, but also consulting services for clients.

In addition to contributing-OLSS, consulting facilitates discovering, innovating and acquiring-OLSS.

Public presentations. Organizational leaders can make public presentations or speeches to introduce organizational and management philosophy and experience to people in suitable occasions (such as a university or TV program). CEOs of many companies such as GE, HE IBM, Legend, and Hair often give speeches in universities and TV programs.

In addition to contributing-OLSS, presentations facilitate reflecting-OLSS.

Providing knowledge on a public Web site. An organizational Web site open to the public is one of the important windows through which outside people view the organization, so it is necessary for organization to design it carefully, introduce the organization properly, and provide sufficient knowledge for outside people. For example, Nokia and Ericsson established well-designed and informative sites.

In addition to contributing-OLSS, Web sites facilitate transferring, reflecting and building-OLSS.

(9) Management practices/tools facilitating building organizational memory-OLSS

Building an organizational knowledge base. An organization should build its own knowledge base where all kind of documents, work reports, academic journals, magazine, books and newspapers are stored electronically and mechanically. For example, an organization should carefully design its Intranet system, where both individual and organizational knowledge can be stored and retrieved and shared conveniently. Many consulting companies such as McKinsey have well-designed Intranet system that facilitate employee learning.

In addition to building-OLSS, a knowledge base facilitates transferring-OLSS.

Building an organizational knowledge map. Tacit knowledge is closely tied to the person who developed it and can be shared through person-to-person contact. Organization can compile a knowledge map that includes people's names, contact information, expertise and work experiences and distribute it to relevant people so they can easily find suitable people to share experiences with, consult, and find solutions to problems when needed.

In addition to building-OLSS, a knowledge map facilitates transferring-OLSS.

A Ten-Step Plan for Continuously Enhancing Organizational Learning Capability We recommend that managers select some of the management practices/tools listed in Table 2 according to the needs of their own organizations. However, before that we need to consider the following four points:

* Different management practices/tools facilitate different kinds of OLSSs. As shown in Table 2, some of the management practices/ tools only facilitate one, two or three OLSSs, while others facilitate more.

* The effort needed to implement different management practice/tools may vary. For example, it may be easier to implement "employee survey system" than "TCS," since the former just needs some questionnaires, interviews, and data collection and analysis. However, implementation of TCS is a company-wide activity and needs major cultural change and investment of resources. It requires strong commitment from top management, total support from frontline employees, and a huge investment of financial and human resource.

* Different organizations have different needs, or in another way, different priorities for improvement of the capabilities of different OLSSs. For example, some organizations may urgently need to have a good understanding of environmental changes, so they need to improve their discovering-OLSSs, therefore they can select "employee survey system," "customer survey system," and "scenario planning." Some organizations may need to acquire knowledge and expertise quickly from outside because they are starting a new business, so they need to enhance their acquiring-OLSSs. They can implement "recruiting talent from outside," "external advisory group," or "attending external training program." Other organizations may need to increase their transferring-OLSS to exploit their existing experience, knowledge, and expertise, so they can implement "building organizational knowledge base," "building organizational knowledge map," and "internal benchmarking and best practice sharing."

* Organizations may have different initial conditions (or readiness) for implementation of these management practices/tools. For example, some organizations lack sound information technology infrastructure or enough financial resource, so it would be easier for them to implement "building organizational knowledge map" instead of "building organizational knowledge base." Organizations may have different stakeholders and strong conflicts over different interests, so it may be very hard for them to implement "internal benchmarking and best practice sharing" or "360-degree performance evaluation system." Some organizations may not build a favorable culture for teamwork and cooperation, strong commitment and determination from top management, so it may be difficult for them to implement "TCS," "TFE," or "Work-out."

Based on the four considerations, we suggest a 10-step action plan for managers using the organizational learning system model (in Figure 1 and Table 1) and the management practices/ tools (in Table 2) to enhance organizational learning capability. A fictitious bicycle manufacturing company will be used as an example.

Step 1: Analyze and list your organization's important and urgent needs. One or more management practices/tools can be successfully implemented only if they help top managers meet the organization's needs. For example, a bicycle manufacturer has plants in different places where the same bicycle is produced. One plant has implemented certain quality programs very well and achieved great financial success. However, the other plants' product quality remains low. So, improving the product quality in the other plants is the company's important and urgent need.

Step 2: Analyze and select initially some management practices/tools (from Table 2) that can help your organization meet important and urgent needs. For example, to meet the need of the bicycle company, certain management practices/tools can be considered, such as "internal benchmarking and best practice sharing," "external benchmarking," "external advisory group," "employing external consulting," "I Recommend / Idea Box," "TCS (Total Customer Satisfaction)."

Step 3: Do a feasibility study for each of the initially selected management practices/tools.

For example, the result of the feasibility study may be as follows: (1) "External benchmarking" will not be suitable since competition among bicycle companies is intense and it is hard to get information and experiences from other companies; (2) "External advisory group" will not be suitable since it can only give the company some general and long-term suggestions when currently the company needs specific suggestions. (3) "Employing external consulting" is not possible since currently the company's financial situation is not good due to other plants' poor performance. (4) "TCS" is not appropriate because this company has not built a teamwork-oriented culture and because it is more difficult to implement and needs a longer time to produce a good outcome. (5) "Internal benchmarking and best practice sharing" is suitable because it costs less and the similarity among these plants will make the experience sharing easy to be successful. (6) "I recommend / Idea Box" is suitable because it is easy to implement and costs less.

Step 4: Make final choices from your initially selected management practices/tools based on your feasibility study and also figure out the priorities. In this company, for example, the final decision is made based on the analysis in step 3: implementing "internal benchmarking and best practice sharing" among all plants and "I Recommend/Idea Box" in each of the low-quality plants. Higher priority will be given to "internal benchmarking and best practice sharing" since it would be the major way to improve the product quality in the low-quality plants. "I Recommend/ Idea Box" is the secondary.

Step 5: Assign one senior manager or a senior management team to lead the implementation of the selected management practices/tools and figure out the specific plan.

Top management commitment is the most important element in implementing these management practices/tools. Sometimes even the CEO is needed to head the implementation team. For example, in this bicycle company, it is suggested that senior executives and all the plant managers are members of the leader team because improvement of product quality in the low-quality plants is so important to the company. The leader team will figure out the specific implementation plan for the two selected management practices/ tools.

Step 6: Prepare and plan for necessary financial and human resources before implementation. It should be known how many people will be involved and how much work they need to do for the two management practices/tools. Budget needs should also be planned carefully and sufficiently.

Step 7: Provide a training course for the selected management practices/tools for relevant people.

In this bicycle company, for example, the training course such as internal benchmarking, knowledge sharing, quality management, and organizational learning will be provided for various plant managers.

Step 8: Implement these management practices/tools and reward people for their contributions.

In the bicycle company, for example, there may be some difficulties implementing "internal benchmarking and best practices sharing," because the high-quality plant may be reluctant to share its experience with the low-quality plants. To implement "I Recommend/ Idea Box," employees need to be motivated to contribute their good ideas to their plants. So, incentive and reward systems should be established to motivate the people involved.

Step 9: Evaluate the consequences of these management practices/tools and figure out how to make further improvements.

In this bicycle company, for example, it would be appropriate to organize group review meetings regularly to evaluate outcomes such as improvement of product quality in the low-quality plants in order to improve the implementation process.

Step 10: Plan next-step management practices/ tools according to the changes both inside and outside the organization.

Repeat steps 1 to 9, selecting and implementing more management practices/tools (from Table 2) for enhancing organizational learning capability continuously and moving the organization to true learning organization.

For example, after successful implementation of the two management practices/tools in the bicycle company, the financial situation improves and organizational culture may be more teamwork-oriented. So, the company can consider implement "TCS," "TFE," "external benchmarking," "external advisory group," "building organizational knowledge base," "building organizational knowledge map," and so on. After several rounds, the company has gradually adopted more and more of these management practices/tools and built a competitive advantage. However, learning should never end because it is the key to the company's sustainable existence and development.
Table 1. The functional and capabilities of the nine organizational
learning sub-systems (OLSS)

Title of each OLSS Description of function/capability of each OLSS

Discovering To scan, sense, predict, and discover the
 emerging and unfolding changes, problems,
 challenges and opportunities in external and
 internal environments

Innovating To create new ideas to deal with the discovered
 changes, problems, challenges and opportunities
 in external and internal environment

Selecting To make feasible, and optimal choices among
 various alternatives (such as innovative ideas
 or people) to deal with the discovered changes,
 problems, challenges and opportunities in
 external and internal environments

Executing To execute, apply, and realize new ideas and
 knowledge to deal with the discovered changes,
 problems, challenges, and opportunities in
 external and internal environments

Transferring To transfer useful ideas, experience, lessons,
 knowledge, and practices, originated in one place
 (such as an individual, a team or department) to
 relevant places within organization

Reflecting To evaluate, seek feedback, review and reflect
 on the work already finished, and mine knowledge
 from past experience

Acquiring To identify, acquire, and absorb necessary
Knowledge knowledge from the external environment

Contributing To identify and contribute meaningful knowledge
Knowledge to external environment

Building To identify, capture, accumulate, codify,
Organizational classify, store, and retrieve knowledge and
Memory expertise

Table 2. Management practices/tools facilitating the nine
organizational learning sub-systems (OLSS)

 Impact of management
 practice/ tool on OLSS
 ([check][check] means heavy
Management practice/tools impact; [check] means
facilitating OLSS light impact)

Title of the practice/tool Discov-OLSS Innov-OLSS

Employee survey system [check][check] [check]

Customer survey system [check][check] [check]

Scenario planning [check][check] [check]

TCS (Total Customer Satisfaction) [check] [check][check]

TFE (Teaming For Excellence) [check] [check][check]

Work-out [check] [check][check]

"I Recommend"/"Idea Box" [check] [check][check]

System thinking [check] [check][check]

Reverse thinking [check] [check][check]

Dialectical thinking [check] [check][check]

Dialog [check][check]

Optimal decision-making

Open competition for job and
promotion

CAP (Change Acceleration Process)

PDD (Planning and Development [check]
Discussion)

Internal benchmarking & best practice [check]
sharing

Mentor system

Job rotation

AAR (After Action Review) [check]

360-degree performance evaluation [check]
system

External benchmarkin [check] [check]

Recruiting talent from outside [check] [check]

External advisory group [check] [check]

Employing external consulting [check] [check]

Attending external training program [check] [check]

Searching external knowledge [check] [check]

Collaboration, joint venture or [check] [check]
strategic alliance

Mutual exchange activities [check] [check]

Providing training program to [check] [check]
outside

Publishing organizational management
experience

Consulting for outside organization [check] [check]

Public presentation

Providing knowledge in public Web
site

Building organizational knowledge
base

Building organizational knowledge
map

 Impact of management
 practice/ tool on OLSS
 ([check][check] means heavy
Management practice/tools impact; [check] means
facilitating OLSS light impact)

Title of the practice/tool Select-OLSS Exec-OLSS

Employee survey system

Customer survey system

Scenario planning

TCS (Total Customer Satisfaction) [check] [check]

TFE (Teaming For Excellence) [check] [check]

Work-out [check] [check]

"I Recommend"/"Idea Box"

System thinking [check] [check]

Reverse thinking [check]

Dialectical thinking [check]

Dialog

Optimal decision-making [check][check]

Open competition for job and [check][check]
promotion

CAP (Change Acceleration Process) [check] [check][check]

PDD (Planning and Development [check][check]
Discussion)

Internal benchmarking & best practice
sharing

Mentor system

Job rotation [check]

AAR (After Action Review)

360-degree performance evaluation
system

External benchmarkin

Recruiting talent from outside

External advisory group

Employing external consulting

Attending external training program

Searching external knowledge

Collaboration, joint venture or
strategic alliance

Mutual exchange activities

Providing training program to
outside

Publishing organizational management
experience

Consulting for outside organization

Public presentation

Providing knowledge in public Web
site

Building organizational knowledge
base

Building organizational knowledge
map

 Impact of management
 practice/ tool on OLSS
 ([check][check] means heavy
Management practice/tools impact; [check] means
facilitating OLSS light impact)

Title of the practice/tool Trans-OLSS Refl-OLSS

Employee survey system

Customer survey system

Scenario planning

TCS (Total Customer Satisfaction) [check] [check]

TFE (Teaming For Excellence) [check] [check]

Work-out [check] [check]

"I Recommend"/"Idea Box"

System thinking [check] [check]

Reverse thinking [check]

Dialectical thinking [check]

Dialog [check]

Optimal decision-making

Open competition for job and
promotion

CAP (Change Acceleration Process)

PDD (Planning and Development [check]
Discussion)

Internal benchmarkin & best practice [check][check]
sharing

Mentor system [check][check]

Job rotation [check][check]

AAR (After Action Review) [check][check]

360-degree performance evaluation [check][check]
system

External benchmarkin

Recruiting talent from outside

External advisory group

Employing external consulting

Attending external training program

Searching external knowledge

Collaboration, joint venture or
strategic alliance

Mutual exchange activities

Providing training program to
outside

Publishing organizational management [check]
experience

Consulting for outside organization

Public presentation [check]

Providing knowledge in public Web [check] [check]
site

Building organizational knowledge [check]
base

Building organizational knowledge [check]
map

 Impact of management
 practice/ tool on OLSS
 ([check][check] means heavy
Management practice/tools impact; [check] means
facilitating OLSS light impact)

Title of the practice/tool Acquir-OLSS Contri-OLSS

Employee survey system

Customer survey system [check]

Scenario planning

TCS (Total Customer Satisfaction)

TFE (Teaming For Excellence)

Work-out

"I Recommend"/"Idea Box"

System thinking

Reverse thinking

Dialectical thinking

Dialog

Optimal decision-making

Open competition for job and
promotion

CAP (Change Acceleration Process)

PDD (Planning and Development
Discussion)

Internal benchmarkin & best practice
sharing

Mentor system

Job rotation

AAR (After Action Review)

360-degree performance evaluation
system

External benchmarkin [check][check]

Recruiting talent from outside [check][check]

External advisory group [check][check]

Employing external consulting [check][check]

Attending external training program [check][check]

Searching external knowledge [check][check]

Collaboration, joint venture or [check][check] [check]
strategic alliance

Mutual exchange activities [check][check] [check]

Providing training program to [check] [check][check]
outside

Publishing organizational management [check][check]
experience

Consulting for outside organization [check] [check][check]

Public presentation [check][check]

Providing knowledge in public Web [check][check]
site

Building organizational knowledge
base

Building organizational knowledge
map

 Impact of management
 practice/ tool on OLSS
 ([check][check] means heavy
Management practice/tools impact; [check] means
facilitating OLSS light impact)

Title of the practice/tool Build-OLSS

Employee survey system

Customer survey system

Scenario planning

TCS (Total Customer Satisfaction)

TFE (Teaming For Excellence)

Work-out

"I Recommend"/"Idea Box"

System thinking

Reverse thinking

Dialectical thinking

Dialog

Optimal decision-making

Open competition for job and
promotion

CAP (Change Acceleration Process)

PDD (Planning and Development
Discussion)

Internal benchmarkin & best practice
sharing

Mentor system

Job rotation

AAR (After Action Review)

360-degree performance evaluation
system

External benchmarkin

Recruiting talent from outside

External advisory group

Employing external consulting

Attending external training program

Searching external knowledge

Collaboration, joint venture or
strategic alliance

Mutual exchange activities

Providing training program to
outside

Publishing organizational management
experience

Consulting for outside organization

Public presentation

Providing knowledge in public Web [check]
site

Building organizational knowledge [check][check]
base

Building organizational knowledge [check][check]
map


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Guoquan Chen, who was a Fulbright visiting research scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management in 2003-4, teaches organizational behavior and leadership in the School of economics and Management. His research focuses on organizational learning, knowledge management, team management, leadership, and organization system analysis and design, and he has published over 30 papers in Chinese and international journals.

Guoquan Chen, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China / MIT Sloan School of Management
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