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SHRM on High Speed Learning Published: Sunday, August 27, 2000 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

Last Thursday 17th, I had the pleasure to dictate a conference on Human and Organizational High Speed Learning for the Society of Human Resources Management at the Arecibo Country Club. The occasion gathered a very serious and intelligent group of professionals, all interested on how to enlarge learning opportunities within organizations of different types. They were all very active and focus.

I quickly presented a strong democratic design principle or even a imperative. When variety is introduced into an organizational system, the probability that innovation, adaptation and learning will occur increases. Thus, if you want to promote high speed learning incorporate fair amount of diversity within the organizational system. A very simple and intelligent strategy is that of including people from outside the formal system. This means integrating stakeholders, like customers, suppliers, teachers, consultants and researchers within their respective organizational settings. The purpose is to go beyond just interviewing them or inviting them to a panel discussion and then leave, but rather incorporating them to be full partners in ventures of discussing critical issues, sharing research-knowledge, and establishing courses of action.

It is important to include those who may think different from the traditional mindset, but are willing to contribute in a healthy way. The action rule is to include people that can add value through their different knowledge foundation, education and training and bringing different disciplines and thought processes to the situation. Organizations have to avoid the tendency to become victims of the homogeneous group think.

A key angle to enhance this process is avoiding to handpick all the participants. The tendency to always handpick participants reduces variety. It is mare effective to use a selection process that give more equal opportunity for everyone to participate while holding to a minimum the number of people who are specifically asked to participate either because of their position they hold or their traditional mindset.

A voice of alert. The processes that end up populated with the same cast of characters, those who are always asked to contribute because they are of the in-group, do not increase innovation, adaptability or learning. When this occur, new thinking is not being introduced into the system.

Adding new people to existing groups is another way of introducing variety. People with new, different or up-dated knowledge base will show different ways and schemes of looking at reality. If you bring this people to your work sessions they will provide fresh insights and ideas, causing group members to take into account differing points of view. The core tools are those of dialogue (sharing meaning) and debate (contrasting different points of view). This kind of learning points toward the acceleration of acquisition, use, reflection, change and understanding.

The management end should always be that of enlarging the organization`s learning and conceptual space, promoting research and experimentation, widening the circle of involvement and crafting a working community that cares about the quality of results.


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