There is a lot of concern about incorporating social learning into organizations centering on the organizational and culture issues. I gave my “Blowing up the training department” presentation last nite for Massachusetts ISPI chapter, and a number of the questions were on getting the executives to buy in to the need, and then changing the culture. My recent post on problem-solving similarly raised such questions.
As Kevin suggested, if you asked executives “Do you support problem-solving, sharing and reflection, reward diverse participation, and encourage individual initiative?”, they would answer in the affirmative. However, if you asked below that level, you might find a different viewpoint.
This reminded me of an earlier post on attitudinal change, where the first step was to make folks aware of their own attitudes. I think it might be similarly necessary to help make executives aware of the reality, not what they believe. An audit might be a good tool to invoke, assessing the realities of the possibilities to contribute, the rewards, as well as the actual behaviors and beliefs of the individuals in the organization. Eventually, you have to characterize the organization on dimensions of being a learning organization, including supportive learning environment, leadership, and processes and practice.
If you can present individuals with the reality, as the attitude change model suggests, you then have the opportunity to present alternatives, and evaluate the tradeoffs involved. For instance, changing cutlure is hard. However, the consequences of not changing may be worse! Then, if you can get commitment to change, you have the necessary buy-in to start organizational change processes.
It seems clear to me that change can’t happen without an awareness of the real situation and it’s consequences. Org change requires leaders to proselytize and walk the walk. That only happens when they’re really committed, and that requires them to acknowledge the gap and the need.
I’m continually exploring the needs and solutions possible, but it’s clear we can’t avoid the tough issues and have to come up with approaches to address them. These tactics are, I’m sure, not new, but you need the tools to move forward. Learning culture audit anyone?