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Different Areas of Any ORG and Types of ORG Learning  

Barry Sugarman


 The basic disciplines of Org Learning (OL) can be used in any areas of human activity, including all parts of any ORG. Each group will bring its own issues and apply some basic tools of OL in its own way. However, we can look at any ORG as having five functional areas, each with a different focus and priorities for its OL (ORG Learning). 


    OL-1  The large Operational Core. 

Front-line workers focus on improving / perfecting their respective crafts and raising the satisfaction of their customers across the length of the  ORG's value chains, each group focussed initially close to home (core unit).

   OL-2  Connecting Informally Across Core Units

happens as workers need collaboration in order to meet their unit and individual goals.  In collaborating each may learn from the other and this knowledge can diffuse informally to their colleagues. 

OL-3  Internal Integration (Formal) is/was traditionally the job of middle managers. They focus on improving relations between departments  and working to remove obstacles to the strategy.

    Much of this work has shifted to OL-2  (informal) as many middle manager jobs have been eliminated in recent years.

OL-4  External relations, scanning the environment for new opportunities and dangers, testing the viability of the ORG's outputs from user feedback. Many may be involved, some full-time.

OL-5  External & Internal Integration of the Whole Organization

This is the job of CEO and senior managers

(who may work as a Top Management Team.)

It includes: 

- seeing and sharing the Big Picture (shared vision)

- setting overall strategy, using broad input

allocating resources

- nurturing (a learning) organizational culture 

- managing various Both/And challenges

        (including the central-local tension) 

Compare the Bureaucratic and Adhocratic approaches using this grid.

Note especially how they differ in OL-2 and OL-3.


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