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Various Learning Environments

These include personal mastery, mental models, team learning, shared vision, and systems thinking. As they discuss these issues, the authors point out the many ways in which learning organization is similar to current theories in Organization Development.Throughout the remainder of the article, the authors go into great detail regarding the five elements of a learning organization. For example, they explain that personal mastery involves the identification of what is usually considered a life-long goal, and then the development of some means of measuring how close one is to reach that goal. The term ‘mental models’ refers to the way in which we think and act in our daily patterns. The authors quote Chris Argyris (1991) who claims that most people act according to flawed mental models based upon defensive reasoning. One of the strong similarities between learning organizations and organizational development is the concept of self-directed teams. Successful teams share eight common characteristics which include “a clear, elevating goal. a results-driven structure. competent team members. unified commitment. collaborative climate. standards of excellence. external support and recognition. and principled leadership” (Larson LaFasto cited in French Bell, 1995: 98). While the concept of a vision is not difficult to grasp, there is a shift in the approach in that it is recognized in learning organizations that this vision must be a synthesis of the various members of the team rather than the single vision of the individual leader. Finally, systems thinking introduces an entirely new approach to solving problems that don’t work to isolate and solve individual issues but instead attempts to take a broad view of the issues involved and finding a long-term solution that more effectively addresses the source cause.Based on the information available in the article, the learning organization begins when members of a team begin to share their mental models in an open and trusting relationship with other team members.

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