Many organizations continue to view the future as a linear progression from the past.
Their leadership thinks they can predict what happens next.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The Myth Of Organizational Linear Progression
Authors Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd discuss why this belief is fiction in their book The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop And Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today.
They posit that an organization’s linear progress is a myth because
- Never in the history of the modern world has the workplace had four generations simultaneously–much less five by 2020–that have very different beliefs, expectations and values.
- Never has a generation entered a workforce using technologies so far ahead of those used by the organization’s leaders.
- Never has it been so easy for an employer to acquire, integrate and use talent from around the world without having them physically report to a central location. And they employer can do it all from their own chair.
- Never has technology made it possible to connect anyone anywhere asynchronously to collaborate with other team members.
- Never before has society put pressure on organizations to be socially responsible.
The world of work is changing rapidly. Are you prepared for these changes?
The Life Span Of An Organization
Peter Senge says that the average life expectancy of large organizations is about 30 years.
The Living Company author Arie de Geus says the average life expectancy of a multinational Fortune 500 corporation–or its equivalent–is between 40-50 years.
Consider this: by 1983, one-third of the 1970 Fortune 500 companies had vanished.
With the average life expectancy of an organization between 30-50 years, what is your organization doing to sustain its existence? How is it adapting and changing with the times?
Successful Corporations Changing With The Times
Meister and Willyerd give many examples of successful organizations that are adapting to the changing times. Leaders from these organizations use disruptive technology to help them get ahead of their competitors.
- At Burson-Marsteller, Millennials coach executives.
- Cerner uses corporate social networks for social learning and communication.
- Cisco decision makers moved from traditional hierarchy models to connected networks.
- IBM utilizes real time on demand performance support.
Surviving In Turbulent Times
Successful leaders understand that the global marketplace is defined by a fluctuating economic climate and powerful demographic, generational and technology forces.
How can some lead their organizations to endurance and success? What is the key to their success?
Basically, individual learning in organizations is immaterial. Work is almost never done by one person alone. Almost all value is created by networks of people. Work and learning go hand in glove.
As Harold Jarche says, “Work is learning. And learning is work.”
The leaders of successful organizations replace traditional training–teaching only one way to do a job and conform to job requirements–with social learning and collaborative work. These leaders create structures that encourage and enable social learning.
The social learning approach adopts the belief that learning and work happen as a group. How that group is connected to each other and those outside of the group (networks) is more important than any individual node within that group.
Want to learn more about social learning? Join Jeff Cobb, Rich Finestein and me at ASAE11 on Monday, August 8 at 3:15 pm CT, in room 276 at St. Louis America’s Center Convention Complex.
When thinking about the success of an organization, why is organizational learning more important than individual learning? What are some ways organizations can embrace social learning?