In his book The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge discussed ‘learning organisations’ and their unique practices. According to Senge, a learning organisation discovers how to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels, where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free and where people are continually learning how to learn together. While each organisation has its own processes and ethos, Senge propounded five learning principles—Shared Vision, Mental Models, Personal Mastery, Team Learning and Systems Thinking and prescribed tools and frameworks for each of these principles.
In the digital era, organisations have recognised the importance of ongoing learning and adapting to the swiftly changing environment. Therefore the principles of learning that Peter Senge highlighted assume even more significance. One of the key challenges to becoming a learning organisation is the need for ongoing communication with people, consistent action at all levels and transparency in order to remove concerns or disillusionments along the way.
Learning today takes place not only in the realms of the organisation or within the boundaries of organisation teams, but there is a constant flow of information from multiple stakeholders and through multiple channels. This information is required to be harnessed and converted into organisation knowledge that could be used and shared with all concerned.
Digital tools and frameworks provide significant support in addressing each of these challenges effectively and aid them in their objective of becoming a learning organisation and sustaining their efforts thereafter. The communication and knowledge retrieval and access tools are beneficial in building transparency and fostering alignment of aspirations with the vision of the organisation.
Identifying the potential roadblocks and challenges and proactively supporting the learning needs of the individuals is being made more and more simpler and customised to individual needs, thanks to the concentric circles comprising of Artificial Intelligence-Machine Learning-Deep Learning. The field of Artificial Intelligence or AI is what we experience externally; it is manifested through the capabilities of machine learning.
AI possesses characteristics of humans and is able to perform tasks as well as or, in some cases, better than humans can. These
technologies exhibit some facets of human intelligence and this has been made possible by machine learning. Rather than coding for specific set of instructions for performing specific tasks, machine learning uses algorithms to parse data, learn from it and make a determination or prediction about certain actions or events. This is made possible by ‘training the machine’ using large amounts of data and algorithms that give it the ability to learn how to perform the task.
Machine learning is further enhanced by deep learning which is made possible by artificial neural networks that have discrete layers, connections and directions of data propogation. With organisations being connected through myriad digital networks, the success with the Fifth Discipline and reaping the rewards as a learning organisation could become feasible by building the capability to convert the large data volumes emanating from various transactions between people within and outside the organisation as well as between people and machines, into useful knowledge and learning assets. Broadening the horizons of learning and recognising the layers of learning that ultimately bubble up as knowledge is the first step towards this possibility.
Further to this, by applying appropriate AI and Deep Learning tools to the data volumes, we have an opportunity to handle the hitherto unknown nuances in the transactions and bridging the gaps in human thought process and behaviour, thus paving the way to making the organisation a winner.
The writer is CEO, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company