Building Learning into a Developing Organization (Part 4, Leadership for Entrepreneurs)

The function of learning is how an organization realizes the benefit of group work, the value of new insight and expertise, and the efficiency of new ways to distribute, perform, and combine tasks. Learning allows the group to explore new, better ways to do the work.

Entrepreneurs often resist this function because they have been doing the work by themselves. This is where the statement about relationships, the desire for members of the group to “Do It My Way.” We talked about this in Part 2 of the series.

The other functions build towards learning as a distributed function. Vision provides clarity about what the final product should accomplish in the world and connects individuals to this outcome through emotional and logical explanations. Relationships allow members to exchange the things that they need to complete tasks, and to do so in a way that is emotionally supportive and productive.

In an environment with strong vision and relationships, members of the group are able to see their role within the larger group context. They are able to perform their work without conflict or counteraction. With these pieces in place, these members can bring their best selves to work. They can contribute fully, and the organization sees the results of these complete contributions.

Learning occurs on a spectrum. At one end are innovative new ways to do business: incorporating new technology or processes, changing the order of tasks, and so on. These are generally one-off, significant improvements that we think of when we hear “learning organization”. But there are also smaller, more repetitive learning moments. These are the degree to which members of