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Learning Organisations - A Continuous Transformation

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Writer: Dr. Rupali Jeswal
People rise to the challenge when it’s their challenge. Learning Organisations have the levers that drive creation, define purpose, value incubation of ideas, conjure passion, a bridge gaps between potential and possibilities, give abilities, motivation and positive attitude.

“It is not the strongest of the species who live on, nor the most intelligent; rather it is those most responsive to change.”
– Charles Darwin


Organisations such as the paramilitary forces, are one of the vanguards of society, these capable men and women realise their potential through the organisation they are in. These organisations are or should be – “Learning Organisations” (LO). Learning Organisations are the building blocks, through which the human design can only improve and with effective deployment of force multipliers leading to consistent performance that meets or exceeds expectations of organic growth. Building capacity of employees (through constant trainings in developing skill-sets, acquiring new knowledge, applying and testing that knowledge) and facilitating innovativeness (avenues to express new ideas, brainstorm and be a part of envisioning the “learning philosophy” and the ultimate goal of the organisation) are two significant pillars of a Learning Organisation.

The critical engines for growth, prosperity and viability of any LO in the current turbulent and unconventional environment is to be innovative-conscious, to develop, react and modify ideas collectively.

Innovative behaviour is a multiple-stage process and organisations need to invest efforts in developing self-leaders to improve the overall functioning of the organisation.

A 1982 report from the Walter Reed Army Institute for Research noted that leaders must sustain “intellectual and cognitive effort” when future warfare will have a pace, intensity and technological complexity of unprecedented dimensions.

The future warfare mentioned in this report is the present state now, correlating with studies which have identified that our bag of competencies must include: “an ability to deal with cognitive complexity, tolerance of ambiguity, intellectual flexibility, a meaningful level of self-awareness and an enhanced understanding of the relationships among organisational sub-systems that collectively construct the prevailing “climate.” These would supplement timeless leader qualities: integrity, high energy, courage and commitment to institutional values.”

People rise to the challenge when it’s their challenge. Confident leaders disperse discretion and autonomy, give visibility and recognition and build strong relationships. They inspire self-leadership in every individual of the organisation resulting in officers setting leadership by example and also setting a trend of aspiring mentors.

Learning Organisations have the levers that drive creation, define purpose, value incubation of ideas, conjure passion, abridge gaps between potential and possibilities, give abilities, motivation and positive attitude. This is returned to the organisation through empowerment of their employees, amassing professionalism, bringing trust in the communities of their safety, leadership skills and gathering of mentors. This leads to true capacity development and building in motion.

In learning organisations, brain-storming and tabletop exercises are process where groups of people (in-groups) from various departments come together and create innovation. They take each other’s potential, multiply it with their own and come up with options, suggestions and methods of operations.

  • In-groups are those that reciprocally link individuals’ attitudes and behaviours with the group-level conditions in which they are situated. Groups are cohesive when group-level conditions are producing positive membership attitudes and behaviours and when group members’ interpersonal interactions are operating to maintain these group-level conditions (Positive or negative – cohesion comes when all agree).
  • Cohesive groups are self-maintaining with respect to the production of strong membership attractions and attachments.
  • A unifying notion for the success of the process is a state of equilibrium that must be felt within each and every individual of the in-group, this depends on the imaginable specifics of the goal. The more specifics are clearly detailed the easier the goal becomes.

Every organisation has a culture, this is a set of beliefs, assumptions, learned behaviours, values, shared feelings and perceptions which influence the actions and decisions taken by the organisational members. If the culture is of innovativeness then that will foster initiatives.

Self-esteem

A prolific organisational culture, nurtures a satisfied employee that in turn fuels the individual’s sense of belonging and self-esteem, commitment to the vision and mission. Self-esteem or the overall sense of self-worth is expressed through the confidence in knowing that one has the ability due to his / her character strengths and continuous professional development trainings to face challenges when they are encountered. Modes of resilience and recovery are also embedded in the organisational culture. This has a positive affect on performance of the work force and their self-efficacy.

The internal environment of learning organisations influences the employees’ behaviour, work ethics, attitudes, expectations, values and morale. This internal environment is referred to as an organisational climate.

Climate can be viewed as: The ‘character’ or ‘psychological atmosphere’ of the internal working environment. The climate is comprised of the attitude of the members of the organisation and of the organisation’s working and support structure. This attitude fuels trust and perceptions of genuineness amongst colleagues and those effectively working as a team.

Reciprocity And Swarming: Learning organisations induce “mirroring” of behaviours, to be positive and to deliver effectiveness as a shared and learned task. Swarming is a decentralised force which incorporates flexibility, self-autonomy in making decisions when need be and leading every individual from within before they can lead others. This can only be instilled in an individual due to confidence, which the organisation climate produces under the umbrella of professional development provided.

To make the environment reciprocal and swarming, there has to be transparency, communication and synchronisation and a deliberate doctrine to achieve excellence.

Force Transformation is meant to identify, give leverage and even create new underlying principles for the way things should be done which makes every individual and unit efficient.

Every organisation has a culture, this is a set of beliefs, assumptions, learned behaviours, values, shared feelings and perceptions which influence the actions and decisions taken by the organisational members. If the culture is of innovativeness then that will foster initiatives

Learning Organisations strive to create a link between teaching, learning and promoting development and application of the natural intrinsic values and beliefs of the officers who are in organisations such as paramilitary, police force, correction homes and other security fields. Development comes when what is learned is made applicable in the field through confidence and abilities gained during trainings and learning to convert knowledge into actionable acts.

Leaders of character who demonstrate sophisticated and effective performance are a combination of character, intrinsic values and beliefs, employing responsibilities, skills along with evolving knowledge and performing as collective members of the profession of arms and security.

The basic competency profile of men and women who serve in these organisations are:

  • Strong sense of ethics and values.
  • Self-belief – belief in ability to achieve goals.
  • Belief they are different to opponent.
  • Motivation (desire / determination).
  • Intrinsic motivation and using adversity as a source of determination.
  • Accept competition anxiety, but have a plan on how to deal with it.
  • Can maintain focus-ability to “balance”.
  • Maintain technique / effort in face of fatigue / pain.

An officer’s identity is rooted in qualities of character that have a substantial influence on behaviour and performance – the working attitude!

Combined values and beliefs held by an employee of an organisation about herself / himself and of the organisation are major components of the organisational culture and this affects the overall performance of the organisation building credibility of it’s strength and support amongst the members of the community.

There is a considerable overlap in semantics of beliefs, values and attitudes, however with organisational support to cultivate – talent, innovation and leadership skills serve as distinct constructs and bring empowerment amongst the employees as individuals and in the team.

Empowerment in the team brings forth and enhances natural individual attributes which are:

  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Motivating others
  • Managing conflict
  • Initiating collaboration
  • Team building
  • Performance – Adaptability, Responsibility and Conflict transformation
  • Information exchange – Roles, Interoperability through cross-trainings
  • Trust Performance along with self and peer to peer monitoring
  • Leadership qualities – Self-efficacy, Collective efficacy
  • Communication – Understanding the constraints, flexibility, clarity and infusing it all through cognitive evaluation
  • Team identification – Social exchange, Building camaraderie
  • Stress – Managing, Utilising, Supporting others through various leadership styles

Components of social cohesion and leadership culture provide a clear sense of the unit’s importance, unique capabilities and dedication to professionalism.

A will to win against all odds comes first through the quality of character, this is the root of an officer’s identity, embedded in their organisation culture and nourished by the organisational climate which makes it strong and provides growth. Collective unified vision propels the teams towards a common objective and manages operational security risks.

Character Strengths: To be productive and profitable, character strengths matter. Leader’s character shapes the culture of his or her organisation which shapes and steers the character of the employees of the organisation. This process advances to shape the public opinion and inspires trust and confidence in the organisation.


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