Project Management and the Learning Organization

Shawn P. Quigley, and PMI NC Piedmont Triad Chapter

Very few people have not heard the term learning organization. However, do we know what it has to offer project planning management? We would like to start with the definition of “organizational learning” from BusinessDictionary.com:

“Organization-wide continuous process that enhances its collective ability to accept, make sense of, and respond to internal and external change. Organizational learning is more than the sum of the information held by employees. It requires systematic integration and collective interpretation of new knowledge that leads to collective action and involves risk taking as experimentation.”

We should first address that organizational learning consists of processes both technical and social. A learning organization employs those processes for organizational and individual improvement. We will use the term LO throughout this article, and it will employ both individual and organizational meanings.

The term LO is not new by any stretch of the imagination, but it did not become widely accepted until the 1990s. When we look at the strides made during that time, we can see examples of a shared vision, systems thinking and an open mental model. In LO, it is only called the mental model; however, I have added “open” because a closed mental model will not even entertain new processes or points of view. An open model …

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