Organizational learning is very important to an organization because it enables it to cope with future changes. Every organization that has an ambition towards growth must invest in learning because the business world is currently more dynamic than it was a few decades ago. Organizational learning is comprehensive such that it includes all members of an organization. This collective learning is said to facilitate uniform growth. The structures of an organization can affect positively and negatively on learning. This paper will, therefore, focus on how organizational structures can be tailored to enhance organizational learning. The paper will also shed light on the importance of employing social media to promote organizational learning.
Organizational learning entails pursuing more knowledge, which is necessary to cope with future changes. A learning organization is one that has established functional systems and mechanisms that can be used to improve its performance. It has dawned on organizations that they cannot achieve any commendable progress without skills. The most successful organizations are the ones that possess adequate skills that are owned by their employees. According to Belasen (2000), all organizations have goals at inception, but as time moves by, the approaches that were being employed to achieve organizational goals cease to be useful because of the changes in the environment.
A learning organization uses its existing knowledge to acquire more knowledge. Once the knowledge is obtained, it becomes the driving force towards organizational and individual success. A learning organization does not need to send its workforce back to school and this is because they use their work experiences to learn. This is because experience is the best teacher. After all, it brings one near reality. The knowledge earned through familiarity is used to encourage employees to be more creative, which is a crucial element in organizational development. The members of an organization try using different approaches to achieve the same results. The good thing about organizational learning is that it enables an organization to identify faults and remedy them early enough before time elapses.
Also, Belasen (2000) points out that experience teaches an organization to change its usual routines, and instead introduce flexible routines. Faults alone do not contribute to organizational learning, but also the achievements. When successes are being referred to an organization analyzes them and identifies the factors that could have favored success and then apply them in other areas of the organization. Additionally, an organization can borrow ideas from another related organization.
However, the idea must have worked previously for it to be considered and that is why the idea has to be vetted to find out whether it is compatible with the structures of the organization. For instance, Ford borrowed some of its ideas from convenience stores and as fate would have it, they were compatible with the company.
Network Structure Influence on Learning
Most knowledge is transmitted among employees during casual interactions, but one expects knowledge to be transmitted by the most senior persons in an organization. In a learning organization, knowledge can flow from any direction and thus the leaders must change their attitude towards their juniors. It is thus certain that the attributes of an organization can make a positive contribution towards learning and vice versa. Several factors influence a learning organization concerning organizational structure. They include the reliability of information systems, communication, trust, and authority.
An organization can refer to the information that is contained in its storage systems and learn about the skills and abilities of its members. On the other hand, the information obtained from such records could be misleading if the data was entered erroneously. The information storage systems can be used to conduct background checks because that is the surest and most discreet way of learning about the strengths of the employees. The background checks can reveal the previous position that a given employee served. This is because some employees find it to change their careers when they do not find opportunities of utilizing it.
Learning can commence if there are channels of communication within the structure of an organization. Knowledge cannot be transmitted if communication flows in one direction only. This may further discourage the juniors to share what they know with their seniors. In a typical organizational setup, knowledge flows on give and take basis and if one department is not willing to share the expertise then each department withholds its piece. Furthermore, in organizational communication channels, the information is passed through various chambers, and thus it is most likely to be distorted before it reaches the intended recipient.
Krebs (2007) argues that the complexity of the organizational structure can reduce the speed of transmitting knowledge. This means that simple structures favor learning because it takes less time to implement what has been learned. In conservative organizations, the hierarchy dictates the flow of knowledge, and thus it can only flow in a descending manner.
Social Networking and Organizational Learning
Social networking is used to promote organizational learning. This is because it creates a platform that employees can use to interact in real-time. There are many social networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Myspace, among others. These sites can be very effective mediums of sharing knowledge. Most organizations have integrated their resources with social media. This makes it easier for employees to source for information through the sites and likewise provide counsel to other employees through the same network (Bersin, 2008).
Social media is free from any form of distortion because information is conveyed directly to the intended recipient. Similarly, the social networking sites act as the reservoir of potential expertise. However, the organization must create adequate room for this benefit to be realized. Any form of supervision would discourage the employees from expressing themselves freely due to fear of victimization. However, an organization needs to set limits on the use of social media. This is because some employees can use it for the wrong purpose. The social networking tools include status updates, logs and chartroom discussions.
In conclusion, organizational learning has no end because newer technologies are being discovered every other day. Every organization has an obligation towards continuous learning, and thus the structures should be flexible enough to accommodate future changes. An organization that does not want to invest in learning should know that the rest of the world is evolving with time. The sources of knowledge are all over its only that most organizations do not realize it.
This implies that every member of an organization has some sort of expertise and hence, organizations should consider creating the appropriate platforms to facilitate the sharing of ideas. Social media is a very useful tool for learning as far as organizational learning is concerned. It enhances the sharing of information among employees regardless of their position in the organization. In the end, it is the level of knowledge that an organization has that amounts to excellence in performance.
Belasen, T.A. (2000). Leading the Learning Organization: Communication and Competencies for Managing Change. New York: State University of New York.
Bersin, J. (2008). Social Networking and Corporate Learning. CLO Magazine. Web.
Krebs, V. (2007). Knowledge Networks: Mapping and Measuring Knowledge Creation. Web.