Some Thoughts About a Learning Organization

A Learning organization is an organization with Positive Identity. Certain elements are needed to create positive identity for both organizations and individuals. These come to my mind, using the pattern of my “Lifelong Compass of Joy”……

I.  Authenticity (this means growth that follows a spiral of development from asleep to    aware to awake to alive to attracting to allowing to authentic beingness). For one person or a whole organization, it means to “Show Up”.

II. Cooperation (this includes the art and science of deep listening and inclusion with overtones of caring rather than competition based in fear of loss). It means we can “Listen Up”,

III. Creative Leadership (I like theory U by Otto Scharmer.  It involves the art and science of “presencing” with open mind, open heart, open will). So, releasing our creativity, we can “Open Up”.

IV. Evolutionary Growth (Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, this is based in the theory of dissipative structures with vibrant resilience in the face of change. New belief and new thought: Old structures die away and are replaced with something better. We are incomplete. We are experimenting. We have not been wrong. We are just not done yet.)  We build on what has gone before as we  “Grow Up”.

V. Nature’s Wisdom (We learn from Mother nature, who creates by playfully “mucking about”…a general lightness of being without judgment and atmosphere of fun, with useful recycling of good ideas.) Ancient wisdom suggests that we can have fun and enjoy every day.  We can play and we can “Lighten Up”.

VI. Learning (Knowledge and skills are important learnings.  And, both optimism and hope are learned; positivity is learned; transformational leadership is learned).  We can see through new eyes and we can  “Wise Up”.

VII. Positive Relationships (Organizations and individuals in relationship to self and others can pursue the basics of learning to love one another….expressing acceptance, approval, awareness, affection), allowing us to  “Link Up”.

VIII. Work and Reputation (Our work is our legacy or contribution to the family, the community, and the world). We can “Offer Up”.

Transformational Leadership is true “Social Artistry” and might be the secret to Social Sustainability. Such leaders are “Paradigm Pioneers”. We are at the beginning of a new age and ready for a transformative industrial revolution. We are a global village with interlinking lives and the future is one that will affect all life on this planet.  No matter how small your sphere of operation, you can be a leader.

I think of Ben Zander’s book, “The Art of Leadership” and his idea that you can lead from any chair. Just as the 7th chair violinist is a leader of self, so can every individual rise to that kind of transformation. It requires diligent self –awareness and self-responsibility. Maturity implies autonomy. I think of this as Self Sustainability.  From the inside out, we build and we grow.

Regarding maturity, I don’t know any better way to encourage and foster maturity than through relationships with attitudes of inclusion rather than judgment or condemnation. We are all one and we are all involved in the rise or fall of our species. When the sense of belonging is strong, the personal responsibility for success of the system seems to follow. The old thinking about cause and effect and asking “Why?” kept us in the cycle of finding who is to blame and then complain as if that will solve anything. It only beats the drum of blaming and complaining, which becomes the unstated vision or goal. Humanity has perfected that particular goal so we are very adept at blaming and complaining. Hence, we answer most feed-back with defensiveness or offensiveness. It implies a war or a battle with winners and losers. Truth is, we are all in this together.

If each one of us can grasp that we are both/and individual and collective, we will begin to take rightful ownership for the plight we are in and its solution. Best analogy of this is from Alice O. Howell. She says, “It’s as if each of us lives in a separate bubble submerged in an ocean. Inside the bubble is water and outside the bubble is water, but our separate reality is limited to the water within our own bubble. However, when something affects the water outside, it simultaneously affects the water inside all the bubbles. But in our own bubbles we feel isolated and different from everything outside our own sphere. The underlying unity remains elusive at the experiential level.”

I would add that we are capable of recognizing that we pollute the water in our own bubble with every negative thought. That negative emotion not only affects the water in our own bubble, it vibrates and radiates negativity into the whole ocean around us. So, I ask people to consider that negative emotions are a signal, an internal guidance system that suggests we are using our personal power in a detrimental way. Authenticity lends itself to a feeling of being “on-track” in our life journey. Negative emotions signal that we are “off-track”.

Leadership begins from within and the best, perhaps the only, way to build a positive identity for an organization is to begin with number one—with each individual team member, all the way to the last employee. “Brighten the corner where we are and let our light shine” become the guiding principles for change and for resilience in the face of downturns. Hope, optimism, future visions, and positive identity start with this seed from every individual person, no matter what age, stage, or position they are in.

I don’t ever give up and I have hope for all individuals. Skills required to do such things as “twittering” are learnable, but require some amount of personal security to risk putting oneself “out there”. (I might add that the risk is worth it because it means admitting that we all belong and all the challenges are ours—not someone else’s.) Understanding generational differences helps. Transformational Leadership requires belief systems that allow for new “forms” that transcend the old ones.

Simply stated, we can “Show Up, Listen Up, Open Up, Grow Up, Lighten Up, Wise Up, Link Up, and Offer Up”.

I usually close with “I have upped my life—Up Yours!”