Practical Approaches To Successful Organizational Learning Case Study

Length: 9 pages Sources: 8 Subject: Business - Management Type: Case Study Paper: #61511447 Related Topics: Conceptualization, Organizational Commitment, Meeting Agenda, Recycling
Excerpt from Case Study :

Business - Management Theory

Learning Organizations

Learning Organizations: Case Studies

Learning Organizations

Organizations may experience different levels of learning depending on their commitment and resources to the cause. This study has focused on four organizations two of which are performing well and the other performing poorly in their unique industries.

Apple Computing Corporation

The first company that this paper reviews is the Apple Inc. The firm is attractive as it offers an expounded culture of organization learning. Up to 1989, Apple Computing Corporation commanded only 1.2% of Japan's personal computer markets. Appointment of new company president illustrated a new era, as there were strategized drives towards increasing Apple's presence across market as well as acceleration of change. The company targeted to achieve annual sales revenues of $1 billion in the next five years (IPC. 2001). Meeting the challenge forced the corporation to approach management consultant firms to build up experience in company restructuring and information technology. Apple Japan implemented a sweeping plan for organizational learning for purposes of penetrating the market and increasing efficiency of the company. In order to achieve this, there were plans of repositioning the brand while expanding the scope of distributorship to improve customer management. The firm also introduces the Learning Organization concept into the workplace (Spender, 1996).

The implementation of learning organization techniques was based on the company's advice to address various disciplines that were essential to the development of the learning organization. Team learning, mental models, shared visions, systems thinking, and personal mastery were instrumental in change adaptation. Although group meetings had regular inclusions of company practices, there were different elements that promoted application of team education and group discussions. The approach kept work teams informed while increasing everyone's contributions to respective projects. The increase in team learning emphasis led to the conceptualization of shared visions that had a natural introduction and allowance for members to achieve towards similar goals at all positions. The employees of Apple Company had a distinct mental model for how organizations and managers should co-exist with team colleagues (IPC. 2001).

Through efforts of bringing each the mental model of each person in line with other teams, learning processes became more efficient as teams took up coherent actions. Personal Mastery was managed through encouragement of managers into setting their staff challenging and reasonable goals while introducing more training programs. The essential discipline of systems thinking brought about various other factors together and enabled the employee to contribute to strategic decisions (IPC. 2001). The concept considered the entire system by placing specific focus on the respective problems. The disciplines had been implemented through moderate restructuring as well as the establishment of education programs applied to all people within the organization (Spender, 1996).

Re-organization had diverse outcomes that marked critical improvements within the level of sales of the company as growth exceeded most optimistic projections. Although most of the success areas were attributed to the introduction of Learning Organization concepts, the outcomes illustrate unprecedented improvement (IPC. 2001). Learning organization had major contributions in the institution of the growth. Most of the learning departments use a global view that people continually expand capacities for purposes of creating the truly desired results that great and new thinking patterns were nurtured. Further, collective aspiration was set free, and people continually learned on ways of learning from each other. Scholars discuss the learning organization concept in providing training and HRM tactics to sell their wares among senior management peers. The learning organization concept presents an obstacle to the contemporary approach to training (IPC. 2001). Learning organizations are not enough for purposes of reward and appraisal systems. The criticisms presented towards the learning organization concept involve reasonable extents of guarantees and outcomes of training and appraisal. In the case of Apple, the annual processes of job review are not aimed at making appraisal assessments or performance-based pay (Spender, 1996).

The approach is a fit for concepts of learning organization while accepting broad interpretation of scholars. On the other hand, the learning organization concept together with annual job review is ambiguous to the learning approach. The concept lacks a clarification of the relationship between training and learning and scholars use the concept in skills formation (IPC. 2001). Innovation and experimentation are integral parts of the learning organization as they encourage continuous improvement instead of waiting for the occurrence of a problem. Failure becomes part of the learning process, and the process of


When the organizational structure has highly bureaucratic and formal elements, there is a severe restriction of decision-making and individual autonomy.

2. Exco

The second case study is "Improving organizational learning capability: lessons from two case studies" by Swee C. Goh. This was published in 'The Learning Organization' Journal of 2003. The case presents and discusses practical steps that 'Exco', a medium sized company in Australia takes for purposes of preserve confidentiality and evolving into an ideal learning organization. The learning organization concept is defined, and applicability of the concept within Exco is established through different strategic concern areas. First, the firm compares to Apple in the use of strategy within learning process and review of organizational systems and structures in Exco (Goh, 2003). The assessments are done to establish their overall support in terms of attributes to the learning organization.

For purposes of getting smarter, the firm requires an approach that captures organizational knowledge. The process enables organizational learning through identification of process outcomes. Various departments focus on developing core competencies that include collective organizational learning. In turn, the concept occurs within various levels and functions of the organization (Sun, 2003). It is not sufficient for Exco to focus solely on identifying the vision of the company as the international leader of manufacturing and application of industry products. Sustaining market leadership requires that the company strategically develops and maximizes market share through conceptualization of its core products as well as staff and technology (Goh, 2003). From such angle, development of core competencies bears an intuitive appeal of extreme difficulty in maintaining and managing organization changes as well as adapting to the environment.

Exco attempts to make consistent sets of competencies that have essential attributes towards learning organizations. There are various characteristics regarding learning organization that Exco exhibits as a learning organization. Most of the features have been developed within the past decade. Within the period, Exco faced significant changes in organizational transformation geared towards ensuring that organizations are flexible and have the ability of rapidly responding to competitive marketplaces (Goh, 2003). The firm's structure is flattened due to the emphasis of cross-functional teams. Most of the efforts go into establishing programs that allow people to achieve greater success contributions for the organization. Strategy offers an integral concept in the learning process based on the learning organization. The main reason is that it establishes focus towards organization's development for core competencies at present activities and in plans (Sun, 2003).

The valuation also shifts the focus towards the learning process regarding a desire for the future position in which the organization holds. Exco engages in self-design change strategies. On the other hand, the firm compares to Apple's approach to organizational learning as it focuses on single aspects of organizational change. The firm tries to develop iterative and dynamic processes continually that provide it with well-built capacities of delivering change and redesigning circumstances demand. The concept of involvement allows for transformational change within organizational structures, technology, and human resource practices (Goh, 2003). Such components have different levels of application within the organization. Employees are involved in the transformation improvement processes.

The company's critical success factor is based on cross-functional teamwork for the organization. Top management encourages individuals from various departments to interact and work together towards solving specific problems. Teams face critical encouragement for purposes of taking systems approach in problem solving while using collective thinking skills in building on the creativity and experience of individuals. Various cases in which cross-functional teams are implemented include innovative solutions towards long-standing problems with previous attempts on an individual basis. The scope of implementation for Exco business strategy happens annually. Bottom-up processes that individual teams are garnered together towards formulation of plans is based on an understanding of business needs.

Individual team plans have an active consolidation of the management teams through communicated and refined feedback to all individual teams (Goh, 2003). All consultations are done before finalization of annual management conferences each October. Strategic planning processes are reviewed on an annual basis and effectiveness is evaluated based on surveys. The different ways of accumulating trust in the organization include openly and honestly communicating with employees without engaging distorted information. It also involves showing confidence among employees' abilities while treating them as competent and skilled. The firm also listens to and values employees' contributions Although top management does not agree. It is critical to delivering on promises and commitments while increasing the cooperation with staff (Sun, 2003).

3. Swarthmore Education Centre

Swarthmore Education Centre is an organization in the voluntary sector.…

Sources Used in Documents:


Eisenbach, R., Watson, K., & Pillai, R. (1999). "Transformational Leadership In The Context Of Organizational Change," Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 12 Iss: 2, pp.80 -- 89

Goh, S.C. (2003). "Improving Organizational Learning Capability: Lessons From Two Case Studies," The Learning Organization, Vol. 10 Iss: 4, pp.216 -- 227

IPC (2001). High Road To Work Organization Case Study: Apple Computing. Hi-Res Project.

Josserand, E., Teo, S. & Clegg, S. (2006). "From Bureaucratic To Post-Bureaucratic: The Difficulties Of Transition," Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 19 Iss: 1, pp.54 -- 64
Michiyo, H., (2009). A Case Study of a 'Learning Organisation' in the Voluntary Sector -03. Retrieved on 9th December 2014 from

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