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A semantic disambiguation of terminology used throughout this analysis is presented first, and serves as a precursor to exploring definitions of a learning organization. The definition distinguishes between a learning organization, organizational learning and knowledge management.
A framework of antecedents and characteristics of a learning organization is provided and contrasted with NBK to portray the bank's capacity as a learning organization. Reasons are given why NBK conforms to the principles of a learning organization in juxtaposition to arguments that the bank must transform to become a learning organization.
Based on the assessment, strategic options are considered to enable the bank to promote itself to a learning organization. The options are discussed and a strategy is crafted around six fundamental factors: strategic concept, focus, objectives, processes, systems, measures, and organizational culture (King, 2001).
A concise implementation plan is described, in alignment with the strategy, detailing long-term and short-term goals to enable the evolution of the bank into a learning organization.
What is a Learning Organization?
Competitive and unpredictable market environments pose a requirement for organizations to develop the ability to adapt to change. Rowden (2001) offers an analogy of hiking up a mountain range. There are two types of mountain ranges: mountain ranges like the Swiss Alps with one ultimate summit, and others like the North American Cascades with a multitude of mountain ranges and many peaks.
Traditionally organizations approach business challenges like the Swiss Alps; setting a clear vision, goals, develop detailed roadmaps, and persevere until the summit goal is reached.
The North American Cascades however pose a different challenge. Rowden (2001, p.11) writes that "amid sometimes unpredictable, always uncertain, and highly turbulent business conditions, an organization's capacity to learn as it goes may be the only true source of competitive advantage."
The notion that learning provides organizations with a competitive advantage is prevalent in literature.
Garvin et al. (2008, p.11) state that "learning organizations [are] able to adapt to the unpredictable more quickly than their competitors could". Arikan (2009, p.109) suggests that increasing incidents where organizations can learn creates "a competitive advantage for the collective as well as the individual by enhancing individual knowledge creation efforts." Kliener and Roth (1997) emphasize the importance of learning processes such as recording learning histories to harness and share the advantages of leaning. Argyris (1996) as cited in Yeung et al. (2007, p.2460) states that learning is "a process whereby members of an organization act as learning agents for the organization, responding to changes in the internal and external environments of the organization by detecting and correcting errors in organizational theory in use, and embedding the results of their inquiry in private images and shared maps of organization."
There is an underlying conceptual distinction between learning, knowledge management, a learning organization, and organizational learning.
Learning is an active, constructive, enriching, cumulative process based on self-regulated goals in a collaborative environment (Sun, 2003). Learning is therefore a continuous process of acquiring knowledge. In an organizational setting, learning consists of methodically identifying and addressing a need, assessment of applied learning processes, and accumulating lessons in knowledge repositories for future needs (Najjar and Zeidan, 2011).
Knowledge in an organizational framework refers to intellectual resources embodied by the individuals employed by the enterprise (Steyn and du Toit, 2010). The management of such resources is described by Snowden (2000) as "the identification, optimization and active management of intellectual assets either in the form of explicit knowledge held in artifacts or as tacit knowledge possessed by individuals or communities." as cited in Steyn and du Toit (2010, p.2).
Knowledge can be characterized as explicit and tacit knowledge (Steyn and du Toit, 2010).
Explicit knowledge refers to knowledge that can easily be extracted from its source and codified in an effective fashion for sharing. Example of explicit knowledge includes information stored in company websites, operation manuals, or process flows. Tacit knowledge refers to information that cannot easily be codified and requires extensive learning by observation, imitation, and practice (King, 2001). Examples of tacit knowledge include organizational culture, operating intricate machinery, and other such skills.
Hansen et al. (1999) propose two strategies for managing explicit and tacit knowledge: codification and personalization.
The codification strategy exploits the discernable nature of explicit knowledge that makes it is possible to store and share information across networked databases. The strategy creates leverage by manufacturing reusable knowledge and converting information people possess to documents on networked systems. An organization can turn a profit by taking advantage of knowledge economies of scale presented by this strategy. A codification strategy requires an organization to invest heavily in information systems (Hansen et al., 1999)(King, 2001)
A personalization strategy focuses on building networks of people to optimize sharing knowledge. Documents serve a purpose of getting individuals up to speed in a particular area before an expert is approached for more information (Hansen et al., 1999). This requires an organization to have invested in human capital to create and retain experts with differentiated knowledge that can be capitalized.
Tacit knowledge can also be converted to explicit knowledge. Kliener and Roth (1997) describe one strategy for knowledge conversion to produce a learning history. "A learning history is a written narrative of a company's recent set of critical episodes." (Kliener and Roth, 1997, p. 173). A learning history document is used as a basis for group discussion where members of a new group mark where the document is seemingly engaging and discuss them in depth. Learning histories work because they build trust, are anonymous, encourage conversation, are an excellent knowledge transfer tool and provide a body of knowledge about management (Kliener and Roth, 1997).
Arikan (2009) describes the transformation of tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge in the context of inter-organization exchanges. The first step is externalization where members of an exchange observe, imitate and practice. This transfers tacit knowledge from one member to tacit knowledge to other members. The following step is externalization that involves creating explicit knowledge from tacit knowledge through dialogue and metaphor, in a similar fashion to learning histories. The third step is combination where explicit knowledge from externalization is reconfigured, sorted, transformed, and contextualized for an internal or mission specific objective. The final step of Arikan's (2009) conversion is called internalization where explicit knowledge is internally transformed and reused in the form of actions, processes, and development of new tacit knowledge.
Najjar and Zeidan (2011) present this notion in a continuous management learning process: learning goals are determined, learning programs are selected, outcomes are agreed upon, relevant assurances are determined, followed by an implementation and multiple assessments that precede a revision of learning goals. "Revision may be more important than vision" (Rowden, 2001, p.16).
These portrayals of knowledge management shed light on the systemic nature of knowledge management and the processes involved. These processes exist in context of an organization; if "opportunities and enablers for inter-firm knowledge exchanges are absent, knowledge benefits are unlikely to materialize".
Therefore creating an organizational environment that facilitates learning is imperative for firms to pursue organizational learning and transforming into a learning organization.
Organizational learning is focused on the process of learning within the context of an organization. King (2001, p.13) defines organizational learning as "adaptive behavior over time in terms of [organizational] goals, search attention patterns, standard procedures, decision rules, and various other ways".
Organizational learning is concerned with behavior and values and is therefore imperative at a strategic level (Rowden, 2001). Strategy defines learning effectiveness; the effect of organizational learning is diminished if it is not contextualized within a strategic plan (Yeung et al., 2007). Organizational learning has to start at the top "otherwise defensive senior managers are likely to disown any transformation" (Argyris, 1991, p. 106).
Organizational learning emphasizes the importance of people; as individuals and groups.
Individual learning is concerned with increasing the value of human capital through individual training. This approach increases learning opportunities in formal settings such as corporate universities, on the job training, apprenticeships or informal mentorship programs (King, 2001).
Learning can also occur in groups. Yang et al. (2010) state that organizations can amplify learning by creating and deploying a community of practice: an assembly of individuals with related expertise or interests in a specific topic of knowledge. Quinn et al. (1996) refer to intellectual spider webs: a community of knowledge workers with differentiated skills assembled for a specific mission and disbanded after their objectives are accomplished. Intellectual spider webs undertake peer evaluation to manage and measure knowledge; an incentive program to evaluate and share knowledge must be in place to support such communities.
"A carefully designed community of practice coupled with a well configured incentive system and structured management processes will enable the community of practice to efficiently extract the existing explicit and tacit knowledge; and even create new knowledge" (Yang et al., 2010, p. 1044)
Quin et al. (1996, p. 74) state that "successful organizations are unabashed meritocracies" and therefore it is crucial to evaluate and weed in any process involving learning at an organization. The concept of incentives and penalties is critical to creating a culture where organizational learning can be institutionalized.
An organization with an institutionalized culture of learning is a learning organization.
A learning organization
There are several definitions of a learning organization and despite the lack of consensus on a single meaning for a learning organization, there are shared similarities (Smith, 2001):
King (2001, p.13) defines a learning organization as "one that focuses on developing and using its information and knowledge to change behaviors and to improve its bottom line results".
Rowden (2001, p.15) defines a learning organization as "one which everyone is engaged identifying and solving problems, enabling the organization to continuously experiment, change, and improve, thus increasing its capacity to grow, learn, and achieve its purpose".
Garvin et al. (2001, p. 109) define a learning organization as "a compelling vision of an organization made up of employees skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge. These people could help their firms cultivate tolerance, foster open discussion, and think holistically and systemically. Such learning organizations would be able to adapt to the unpredictable more quickly than their competitors could."
Based on these definitions it is clear that a learning organization is a goal to be pursued rather than a state of affairs (King, 2001). Rowden's (2001) definition emphasizes the democratic nature of a learning organization supported by Quinn et al. (1996) in their description of an inverted organization.
In contrast Garvin et al. (2001) highlight the importance of vision from the top recognizing that senior management perceptions on learning trickle down to the organization (Yeung et al., 2007). King (2001) focuses on the importance of knowledge placing more weight on the information whereas Rowden (2001) highlights that people are a critical factor in the learning processes.
The working definition for this article is based on these concepts: A learning organization is a goal an organization envisions and realizes by implementing systemic processes that create accessible and renewable knowledge networks, rewarding and penalizing measurable behavior accordingly.
In the context of this definition, characteristics and antecedents of a learning organization are presented and a framework is defined from literature sources.
Antecedents and Characteristics of a Learning Organization
Rowden (2001, p. 12) characterizes a learning organization in the context of strategic change: A learning organization provides continuous learning opportunities, uses learning to reach goals, links individual and organizational performance, fosters dialogue, embraces creative tension as a source of energy and renewal, and are aware of and interact with their environment.
Rowden (2001, p.16) highlights four antecedents of a learning organization: constant readiness for change, continuous and flexible planning, improvised implementations and rewarding small wins, and action learning involving reflection and adjustment.
Arikan (2009) defines antecedents of a learning organization in the context of knowledge management in clusters: the breadth of knowledge, degree of modularity, the level of technological dynamism, exploration search strategies, number of knowledge exchange opportunities.
Similarly, Najjar and Zeidan (2011, p.32) present three antecedents in the context of management learning: motivation, opportunity, and iterative reinforcement. These antecedents are elaborated on with a model of the 10 pillars management learning.
The framework presented in Figure 1 is derived from the suggested antecedents and characteristics of a learning organization described above.
The antecedents include an organization's readiness to change, a flexible strategy, incremental reward systems, an adequate information systems infrastructure, human capital investments, knowledge modularity (explicitness), and an existing breadth of knowledge.
A learning organization requires these antecedents to foster an organizational learning culture. Organizations create planned learning opportunities for individual and group learning.
Learning leverages external knowledge sources such as inter-firm knowledge exchanges, and internal knowledge sources. Internal knowledge is continuously improved by increasing learning incidents and recording outcomes.
Measuring learning outcomes systemically provides learning assurances to the organization and carefully crafted reward and penalty programs influence learning behavior. Performance measures and rewards are continuously re-evaluated through iterative feedback processes.
The continuous change that occurs renews and progresses the organizational learning culture as indicated in the diagram. Characteristics of a learning organization proceed from the processes and behaviors fostered within the changing organizational culture.
Figure 1: A Learning Organization's Antecedents, Process, and Characteristics
This framework will be used as context to judge if NBK is a learning organization.
Is NBK a Learning Organization?
This section uses the framework in Figure 1 and the working definition of a learning organization to judge if NBK in its current capacity is a learning organization.
Five reasons why NBK is a learning organization are presented first with reference to the framework followed by five arguments that NBK is not a learning organization. The assessment is then presented based on the reasons provided.
5 Reasons why NBK is a learning organization
Reason: NBK is change ready.
NBK has exhibited resilience in several economic and environmental crises. The survival of the 1982 Souk Al-Manakh stock market crash, 1990 invasion of Kuwait during the Gulf War, and the current financial crisis which started in 2007 is paragon to an organization that integrates readiness, planning and learning into its organizational processes.
Reason: NBK possess a wealth of explicit knowledge.
NBK is a retail bank with products, services and procedures that have been standardized and stored for reuse and transfer via information systems. One example of explicit knowledge in NBK is the branch standard operating procedure manual that is given to all new recruits.
Reason: NBK has a robust information systems infrastructure.
NBK has institutionalized the use of information resources internally using various systems. The most prominent of these systems is the intranet site "myNBK". The bank also has a dedicated MIS unit that creates and generates data and information for decision-making.
Reason: NBK invests in human capital.
The interest from senior management to develop human capital is apparent in the changes implemented in the bank. The number of training courses has increased, intensive executive management training programs have been created specifically for NBK, and an NBK training academy is on the verge of release.
Reason: NBK has manages learning opportunities.
The bank attempts to expose new hires to as much learning incidents as possible. This involves a preliminary training program followed by intensive frontline on the job training. Veteran frontline staff training and support to new hires in a similar fashion to the inverted organization described by Quinn et al. (1996).
5 Reasons why NBK is not a learning organization
Reason: NBK does not have a structured reward system to support a learning organization.
Organizational learning is not rewarded in NBK. As suggested by Najjar and Zeidan (2011), learning works well when there is recognition and reward to motivate knowledge acquisition, distribution, and revision. In its current state, NBK rewards learning by providing certificates of completion. This stops knowledge proliferation at an early stage and prevents the evolution of new lessons and knowledge.
Reason: NBK business strategy does not support learning and innovation
According to Steyn and du Toit (2010) a strategy defines what type of knowledge needs to be developed. Rowden (2001) suggests that an open and flexible business strategy induces organizational learning and innovation. NBK's business strategy is not reviewed often enough, is rigid, and leaves little room for flexibility. Knowledge requirements are not defined and are difficult to define because of the inflexibility of the corporate strategy.
Reason: NBK focuses on individual learning
NBK increases human capital by training individual employees but does not leverage existing human capital expertise. By overlooking crowd sourcing, communities of practice, and group learning, NBK forgoes benefiting from the company human capital. " The outcome of a system does not equal the sum of its individual parts." (King, 2001, p.17)
Reason: Exchange of tacit knowledge is limited
Whereas explicit knowledge might be managed in NBK, tacit knowledge is neglected. This negligence is in part due to the individualistic learning orientation of the bank and lack of strategic direction with regards to knowledge management. If indeed tacit knowledge exchange does occur in the bank, it is unplanned and is not converted into reusable knowledge. Therefore the bank invests time but never realizes the potential returns from explication of tacit knowledge.
Reason: NBK has no learning assurances implemented
Similar to rewards, the bank has no assurances that learning is in fact occurring because they are not measured. Key learning indicators and measures are innumerable: reduced cycle times, reduced cost of product development, project completion, order fulfillment, improved productivity, increased satisfaction, quality and timeliness of decision making, increases in knowledge sharing behavior, level of reuse of existing knowledge, organizational dependency on key employees, reduce admin costs, less redundancy and many others (Yeung et al., 2007). NBK does not utilize or communicate such learning measures with employees.
Opinion: Is NBK a Learning Organization?
A learning organization is a goal to be pursued rather than a state of affairs (King, 2001). The nature of a learning organization is continuously evolving and therefore becomes evermore challenging to achieve this goal.
In several areas, NBK can be portrayed as having achieved aspects of a learning organization. In reference to Rowden's (2001) mountain analogy: NBK has conquered only a few summits and has many more to endure. For NBK to trek unpredictable topology of modern business environments, the bank must consider learning and behavior at a strategic level.
The following section provides a suggested guideline for what the bank must do to become a learning organization fit operate sustainably.
What needs to be done to promote NBK to a Learning Organization?
In this section, strategic options for NBK to pursue a learning organization goal are outlined.
Recommendations are crafted around six factors: strategic concept, focus, objectives, processes, systems, measures, and organizational culture (King, 2001).
Rowden (2001) offers a time-phased set of strategies and states that each strategy is a response to faults in a previous strategy. King (2001) also outlines six strategies by which an organization can achieve a learning organization goal. These strategies are progressive; an organization graduates from one strategy into the next with time and experience. The six strategies are illustrated below.
Figure 2: Time Phased Learning Organization Strategy (King, 2001, p.16)
King (2001) indicates that these strategies are viable but not sufficient; no strategy is a panacea. For example, an organization might forgo a stage in the time-phased strategy or employ only a certain number of initiatives from each stage. In order to develop a strategy King (2001) recommends assessing each organization in its own right. In light of this recommendation, the previous assessment of NBK is used to extract strategic initiatives from each of King's phases and draw on supporting arguments in the learning organization literature.
Information Systems Infrastructure is the first strategy that focuses on the worth of data and information for management. The objective of this strategy is to provide decision support, control and performance data. This requires the identification of pertinent information, acquiring relevant data, and storing it in a meaningful manner. The codification of information requires a high investment in information technology (Hansen et al., 1999) to connect people to reusable data. In pursuing such a strategy an organization would hire new recruits capable of implementing knowledge from data repositories; crowd sourcing (Hansen et al.,1999). Garvin et al. (2008) describe information collection in a similar fashion; systemically collecting information from various sources and storing it for reuse. The culture that develops in an information systems organization is one of operational efficiency. Therefore key performance measures include effectiveness of information acquisition, storage, distribution, usage and renewal (King, 2001).
NBK has a strong information systems infrastructure and systemically collects information on competitors, customers, trends, and products, among other important information. The distribution of this information is centralized but is not measured.
The recommendation for the bank is to implement performance measures to ensure operational efficiency of knowledge management systems in the bank. The key performance indicators recommended are: information relevance, employee competency. The key measures are recommended are: average number of times information is accesses, and the age of each record of information in the database.
Intellectual Property Management strategy involves leveraging explicit intellectual assets such as brands, patents, product formulas, research to create additional value. Explicit knowledge is stored, retrieved, refined, and redistributed in topical knowledge repositories. Knowledge is duly licensed, brokered, and rights sold to clients. The key performance indicator and measurable are return on investments and revenue generated from sales of intellectual property.
The novelty presented by this strategy is brokering intellectual property. A retail bank might find that brokering intellectual property out of the scope of its business. However, the concept of brokering knowledge is applicable internally. Garvin et al. (2008) state that information transfer, education, and training are crucial elements of concrete learning processes and practices in a learning organization. However, a barrier to information transfer is motivating participants to share knowledge (Yang and Suz-Tsung 2010).
The recommendation for the bank is to creating an internal market for intra-firm exchange of intellectual property to create motivation for creating, distributing, and acquiring mission critical knowledge.
Individual Learning strategy entails both formal and informal training to increase the value of human capital. Formal training programs, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training are the processes implemented in this strategy. Garvin et al. (2008) also emphasize individual training as a building block of a learning organization; time is made available for training and updates from experienced employees or mission specific training programs. Technology involved in this strategy includes computer based training systems. The key performance indicator is employee competency; technical and functional capacity of the individual (Najjar and Zeidan, 2011). The key measure is the number of completed training programs. This creates a university type organizational learning culture where individuals progress by completing programs and graduating.
The recommendation for NBK is to institutionalize learning by creating implementing an internal academy or university. Training programs are developed to serve organizational knowledge needs that are continuously revised and aligned with the strategic objectives of the bank.
Organizational Learning strategy is concerned with enhancing the organization's readiness for change by focusing on social capital; developing competencies such as team work, continuous improvement, and change management. The emphasis this strategy is learning by social systems: "shared knowledge, values, normative standards, and behavioral patterns" (King, 2001, p. 17). The processes involved include but are not limited to formal team training, developing career paths, intellectual spider webs, and communities of practice. Systems in this strategy are ones that facilitate and support change, dynamic work groups, and provide relevant executive information. Key performance indicators and measures are reduced cycle times, reduced cost of product development, improved productivity, and greater customer satisfaction. This strategy institutionalizes a culture of change.
The recommendation for the bank is to shift from a focus on individual learning to an organizational learning model. This can be accomplished by creating learning communities, increasing team based projects that utilize intellectual knowledge webs. This however is only capable if NBK can successfully implement an individual learning initiative to increase human capital. Otherwise the organizational learning strategy is impeded by a lack of a breadth of knowledge; one of the antecedents of a learning organization.
Knowledge Management strategy focuses on sharing tacit and explicit knowledge in a timely manner. The strategy meets objectives by utilizing mission specific expertise through explication and sharing through management information systems. Knowledge management systems include FAQ databases, service and best practice manuals, learning histories and similar systems of information. Key measurable performance indicators are timeliness of decision making, increase in knowledge sharing behavior, level of reuse and renewal of knowledge in systems. The culture this strategy creates is a knowledge sharing culture.
The implications and recommendation for the bank is to engage in knowledge explication activities such as the creation of learning histories described by Kliener and Roth (1997) or in staged processes as outlined by Arikan (2009). Garvin et al. (2008) also describe knowledge manage in processes and practices that involve information transfer in explicit form and emphasize that it is a building block of a learning organization.
Innovation strategy holds the concept that creativity can be enhanced and is focused on creating processes, solutions and products. The objective of this strategy is to maximize returns from idea generation. The processes in an innovation strategy involve culminating creativity in small projects and rewarding small wins (Rowden, 2001). Goals for these projects are centralized on revenue generation. Therefore, the key measurable performance indicator is returns on investment. The innovation strategy creates a culture of creativity in the organization.
The implication and recommendation for the bank is to establish a project management office that manages the bank's initiatives in the frame of projects; setting start and end dates with specific budgets and revenues for each project.
Garvin el al. (2008) gives insights into two additional building blocks that are critical for an organization pursuing a learning organization goal.
The first is an environment that is conducive to and supports learning. This entails providing psychological safety such that participants feel comfortable to express themselves through open dialogue or via anonymous channels. This requires organizational openness from a senior management level that appreciates contrasting opinions to foster creative thinking and innovation. Finally, a supportive environment allows its members to reflect, often, in order to reassess, evaluate and improve processes and practices.
The second building block that Garvin et al. (2008) offer that is not covered by King (2001) is reinforcement of learning through leadership. Managers must embody and exhibit the organization values of learning. For example managers in a learning organization probe discussion, acknowledge their limitations, listening, problem solving, and encourage learning.
The recommendation for NBK is to communicate its learning values and recognize innovative thinking. It is important to implement bottom-up communication channels and enforce on-the-job time for reflection; individually and in groups.
This analysis concludes in the following section with an implementation plan that summarizes the recommendations made.
Implementation: Towards a Learning Organization model
To transform NBK into a learning organization by leveraging existing strengths, improving on weaknesses, institutionalizing learning opportunities, and circumventing barriers to the goal of becoming a learning organization.
Short Term Initiatives
Initiative: Create a talent and knowledge management committee
The talent and knowledge management committee serves as a body to steer learning in the organization. The committee should be composed of senior executive management and general management; this communicates down the organization the important of learning. The committee's responsibilities include identifying learning needs, addressing needs by creating KPI's and KPM's for learning initiatives across the bank.
Initiative: Implement mentorship programs
To increase the proliferation of tacit knowledge, mentorship programs should be implemented. Individuals are nominated as mentors and mentees for an employee's career. Mentors can be changed as necessary.
Initiative: Implement measures for knowledge consumption and sharing
The current information systems infrastructure serves as a platform for the distribution of knowledge. Mechanisms to monitor the effectiveness of knowledge in these systems are not in place. The bank must establish measurements of information relevance and employee competency by gauging average number of times information is accesses, and the relevance of information in the systems. Logging employee behavior on knowledge systems such as myNBK and providing monthly feedback to users and their managers can accomplish this initiative. For example, a direct sales employee must keep up to date with relevant product information. The difference between the last date a product page was updated and the last date which a specific employee accessed that piece of information would serve as an indicator for the sales employee's product knowledge and competency. This would also gage the level of sharing that occurs in the distribution of information and knowledge within the bank.
Initiative: Design incentive programs that reinforce learning, evaluate, and weed.
Garvin et al. (2008) state that information transfer, education, and training are crucial elements of concrete learning processes and practices in a learning organization. Motivation is a barrier to information transfer (Yang and Suz-Tsung 2010). Therefore it is imperative that learning objectives be reinforced by adequate rewards and penalties. Employees should be rewarded not just for learning, but also for sharing and creating new knowledge from what they have learned. Employees that inhibit or neglect learning and knowledge sharing should be discharged.
Long Term Initiatives
Initiative: Establish a learning academy
The learning academy serves as a hub for the development of human capital. The academy offers intensive training programs for new recruits to maximize learning in the early stages of an employee's career. Veteran employees are trained through the academy in specialized areas based on organizational learning needs identified by the knowledge management committee.
The academy also serves as a resource for identifying individuals with specialized skills. Alumni of the academy can be called into cross-functional intellectual webs to achieve mission specific goals. The academy thus facilitates opportunities for tacit and explicit knowledge transfer.
Initiative: Institutionalize change and innovation
The bank must establish a project management office that manages the bank's objectives by delivering small successive wins in the frame of projects. Project successes are measured in terms of revenue and returns on investments.
A project office will shift the banks focus from individual learning to an organizational learning model. Team based projects utilize intellectual knowledge webs and communities to accomplish complex missions. The knowledge academy serves as a reference for sourcing skilled individuals or developing individuals preemptively for forecasted needs.
Initiative: Implement information systems that leverages community knowledge
Knowledge information systems in the bank are centralized. As suggested in literature reviewed, crowd sourcing and community based systems are more effective in learning organizations. It is therefore imperative to decentralize knowledge creation and centralize knowledge management. This is achievable through social technologies such as internal wikis where information is created by knowledge communities. For example, knowledge can be stored in topical wikis and learning histories be populated across the bank, locally and regionally. The information is searchable and discussions can take place in virtual workspaces.
A Learning Organization KPI's and KPM's
A list of preliminary KPI's and KPM's are listed to supplement the initiatives above.
KPI: Efficiency as a result of effective learning
KPM: Number of projects completed on time and within budget.
KPM: Number of projects completed per annum.
KPM: Reduced administrative costs
KPM: Reduced cycle times
KPI: Employee Satisfaction
KPM: Reduced turnover
KPM: Employee productivity
KPI: Employee competency
KPM: Reduced administrative costs
KPM: Reduced cost of product development
KPM: Number of completed training programs
KPI: Increase knowledge sharing behavior
KPM: Number of times information is accessed
KPM: Number of times employees update information
Considerations for Future Developments
A learning organization strategy is not a prescription or panacea for success; it is a response to a change in the business environment (Rowden, 2001). Organizations that appreciate the volatility of such environments can adapt to change and continue to operate sustainably.