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Über dieses Buch

This book discusses the successes and challenges of leveraging organizational learning in effective strategy development and execution. The authors introduce a framework that helps organizations develop core capabilities to enable them to shift direction rapidly and proactively shape future environments. They also offer a wide selection of cases to illustrate this framework. While some cases highlight fundamental strategic change over time, others are snapshots of mechanisms gradually put in place to jointly optimize learning and performance. There is no one best or right way to leverage strategic organizational learning; different practices may lead to the same outcome and similar practices may lead to different outcomes. The system dynamics underlying such learning — not the simple adoption of one or other practice — are key to success in institutionalizing a performance-based learning approach.



1. Introduction

Organizations can catalyze innovation and sustain performance by understanding learning as an enabling strategic resource. Learning alone is not enough to drive innovation and sustain performance. Changes in the organization are also needed to leverage system dynamics. Strategic organizational learning has become increasingly important to leverage performance in support of strategy development and execution. Because such learning often requires whole system learning and change, there is no one best or right way to leverage learning. Different practices may lead to the same outcome and similar practices may lead to different outcomes. The underlying dynamics of such learning are key to success—not simple adoption of one or other practice. In Chap. 2 we introduce our model, Strategic Leverage through Learning © , and then present overviews of the in-depth cases of learning and change in Chaps. 38. In Chap. 9, we summarize system dynamics for each case and highlight cross-case system dynamics. In Chap. 10, we discuss ways that we have used our model and instruments in partnership with organizations to address their challenges. We also propose ways that other organizations can use our model and approach.
Martha A. Gephart, Victoria J. Marsick

2. Strategic Leverage Through Learning©

We describe our model, Strategic Leverage Through Learning © , and its development. Our model uses the system-level factors in the Burke-Litwin Model of Organizational Performance and Change to define the key dimensions of an organizational system. Following Burke and Litwin (Journal of Management 18:532–545, 1992), Strategic Leverage Through Learning © distinguishes between transformational and transactional dynamics. We have defined and added a set of interim learning and performance outcomes to the Burke-Litwin framework. We have also redefined the constructs for each of the transformational and transactional factors in their model to jointly optimize learning and performance. We describe how we developed and validated measures of the constructs in our model. Definitions of constructs are included. We demonstrate the use of the model to diagnose challenges and leverage change in a Federal Judicial Agency. We contrast our learning approach to change with planned change models.
Martha A. Gephart, Victoria J. Marsick

3. Engineered Woods

Joint Work with Bill Goodspeed
This chapter tells the story of how Engineered Woods transformed itself from a commodity business to a specialty products business, and how all aspects of the organization became aligned when the whole system learned to successfully pursue a new business strategy. The chapter shows how leaders in Engineered Woods recognized the need for a new strategy, and learned to develop, manufacture and market new specialty products. Key to success was the way they addressed the misalignments that occurred at each step in this process. After bringing out a first innovative product, Engineered Woods learned as an organization how to sustain success by changing leadership, culture, systems, structures, measures, rewards, incentives, and practices for learning and knowledge sharing.
Martha A. Gephart, Victoria J. Marsick

4. Happy Land Amusement Park

Joint Work with Kathleen H. Wall
The story of Happy Land Amusement Park in this chapter revolves around the organization’s learning and the changes put in place after each of two fatalities, which made it clear that the Park was not “safe,” as presumed. Safety had been managed by a set of rules that guests and employees were expected to follow, norms that worked as long as everyone followed the rules. When the rules were broken, so was the illusion of safety. Leaders put systems and practices in place during several phases after these fatalities that were based on learning they gained through new talent, outside networks, industry best practices, and experience in other organizations. Each phase built on gains from prior changes. The outcome was a changed climate, increased commitment, and an aligned organization with a strong pervasive safety culture.
Martha A. Gephart, Victoria J. Marsick

5. Leveling Up: How South Side High School Learned to Transform Itself

Joint Work with Alexander M. Hoffman
This chapter tells the story of how leadership at South Side High School transformed the school using a strategy of “leveling up”. Tracking of students by performance was eliminated. Instead, detracked students were taught using a rigorous, honors curriculum. The school reached their strategic goals of numbers of Regents Diplomas and followed that by implementing the International Baccalaureate program. Leaders drove change through data based decision making. Principal Burris worked with teachers and teacher leaders to develop differentiated instruction to meet the needs of all students. This increased levels of collaboration among leaders, teachers, guidance counselors and other professionals that broadened conversations throughout the school. Burris changed management practices as well as recognition and rewards—all of which led to changing the culture to support success for all students, regardless of socio-economic status, race or ethnicity. Detracking precipitated change, but organizational learning drove and sustained innovation aimed at success for all students.
Martha A. Gephart, Victoria J. Marsick

6. Linking Leadership Development to Strategy at Ericsson

This chapter tells the story of how Ericsson—a high-technology, global telecommunications company—used executive education to support implementation of a new strategy. The chapter focuses on how a common model, language, and set of tools for strategy development—embedded in Ericsson and introduced by a new executive education program developed by the Columbia University Business School, Executive Education—drove organizational learning and developed leaders and networks that could better implement the company’s new strategy. Executive education was leveraged to build internal alignment among leaders, engage their commitment to the new strategy, and put structures, processes, and mechanisms in place to drive the new strategy throughout the company.
Martha A. Gephart, Victoria J. Marsick

7. How Schools Learn to Collaborate and Change Their Cultures by Implementing an Autism Model Program in Inclusive Classrooms

Joint Work with Suzanne Kucharczyk
This chapter describes how four schools—that participated in an Autism Model Program—learned to implement an innovative research-based educational model for children who have Autism Spectrum Disorders, a growing challenge for schools. Coordinated action was needed within and across classrooms and grade levels to reach school level visions and goals. The chapter sheds light on the critical role of leadership and collaboration in these programs. Participating schools developed the capacity to learn and share knowledge as systems—within schools, across schools involved in the program, and between the schools and a support network. Participation moved the culture of the schools away from isolation and towards collaboration.
Martha A. Gephart, Victoria J. Marsick

8. CASAWORKS for Families

This chapter describes how inter-agency collaboratives designed and delivered comprehensive, integrated services for substance-abusing welfare mothers as part of a national welfare-to-work demonstration project (CASAWORKS for Families). A new approach to combining treatment and training and delivering such services in community-based settings required organizational learning and capacity building. Implementing the CASAWORKS model successfully was expected to require significant capacity-building and learning for sites in the project. As part of the project we undertook an evaluation of organizational capacity and learning that assessed the extent to which, and the processes through which, sites developed the capacities to design and deliver integrated services for clients. This chapter describes the capacities that sites needed to develop and profiled sites that were successful and unsuccessful in developing the organizational capacity to implement the CASAWORKS model effectively. We report results of research indicating that our measures of organizational capacity and learning predicted client outcomes at successful sites, and we discuss how the sites achieved these outcomes. The fact that differences across sites are often greater than differences due to components of an intervention suggests that organizational capacity and learning may be much more important in all kinds of national demonstration projects than has been recognized.
Martha A. Gephart, Victoria J. Marsick

9. Leveraging System Dynamics for Strategic Learning

In this chapter we first summarize the system dynamics for each case, and then use flow diagrams to contrast different patterns of interaction among transformational and transactional dynamics. We then highlight cross-case system dynamics and conclude with a discussion of insights from research and practice. System dynamics in these cases varied, depending on levels of organizational complexity; differences in organizational learning depended in part on what was meant by “organization.” We conclude by highlighting the competitive advantage of our model, namely that effective organizational change requires both productive organizational learning and leveraging system dynamics.
Martha A. Gephart, Victoria J. Marsick

10. Using Strategic Leverage Through Learning © to Address Organizational Challenges

This chapter describes how organizations that have used our model have improved organizational learning and performance in ways that led to substantial gains in achieving their strategic goals. Our model illustrates the value of diagnosis and intervention using a learning approach to change. We describe the different ways that the model and instruments can be used: to guide new interventions, to assess and improve existing interventions, to explore new opportunities, or to extract lessons learned by deepening insights into system dynamics. We discuss ways that organizations can use our model and diagnostic survey tools to assess their system learning and performance, and underlying system dynamics.
Martha A. Gephart, Victoria J. Marsick
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