Key Success Factor 6: Team Learning *
Recently there has been an emphasis on organizational learning and its potential for providing companies with a competitive advantage and the government with improved efficiency and effectiveness. Vice President Al Gore's message to federal managers contained within the Human Resource Development Council's Getting Results Through Learning (1997, 2) states:
...I need your help to introduce a climate for learning in every government organization. This little book, Getting Results Through Learning, can help you do it.
The book refers to learning as
...all our efforts to absorb, understand, and respond to the world around us. Learning is social. Learning happens on the job everyday. Learning is adapting, and it is vital for the survival and well-being of individuals as well as organizations.
In his popular book on systems thinking and organizational learning, The Fifth Discipline (1990), Peter Senge states that
...team learning is vital because teams, not individuals, are the fundamental learning unit in modern organizations. This is where the "rubber meets the road;" unless teams can learn, the organization cannot learn.
Because of the complex, uncertain and rapidly changing environment within which IPTs must do their job, it is critical that they learn how to learn. Learning refers to an increase in capability for effective action. This ties learning directly to results. Be aware, however, that effective action is usually preceded by a great deal of experience, knowledge and intuition, coupled with a good picture of reality. Study, reflection, observation, experience, dialogue, trial and error, behavior, and feedback are all part of learning. Effective action is essential for learning, because knowledge without action is useless, and action without knowledge is blind.
For convenience two types of learning are considered: skill improvement and team development. This somewhat arbitrary distinction highlights their differences and points out that IPT learning needs to change with time. Skill improvement would be dominant during team start-up and include training in areas such as team building, interpersonal skills, and conflict management. Team development is closely akin to TQM's continuous performance improvement and would include development focused on specific team needs that increased their performance.
* Navy IPT Learning Campus, Version 1.1.