organizational learning and its implementation. Using a short case study the writer explores how the company uses organizational learning to train its 1,800 employees over an 800-mile geographic area. There were three sources used to complete this paper.
Training employees to work on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System
INTRODUCTION recently discovered style of learning has attracted the attention of companies and industries across the nation. Organizational learning styles are being used in companies to train new employees and retrain current workers. For many years company training involved the use of a company manual that often provided a different set of guidelines than were actually used on the floor. In addition the guidelines that did pertain to the employee’s job duties were often unclear and ambiguous in nature leaving the employee unsure of what he or she was expected to do.
Organizational learning begins with individual learning and doing something, reflecting on the consequences of that action, allowing that reflection to influence the next action, reflecting on that and repeating it until the tasks are mastered.
Individuals often learn new concepts or tasks using these steps. Organizational learning simply takes it a step further and has individuals go through the same steps but in a group setting. Collectively the group members reflect and act together and the entire group learns the new concept or task.
Reflection and action work together to produce organizational learning. Under the best conditions acting and reflecting permeate one another to create an indivisible and continuous integration that seem like nothing so much as a “dance” (A Simple Introduction to Organizational Learning (http://www.systemsprimer.com/what_is_org_learning.htm).
The reflection portion of the learning process is as important as the doing portion. The group must be sure that there is a period of reflection that is not interrupted by the need to do something or perform a task. The reflection can involve discussion about what the group just did and any problems that occurred. In addition it is important to discuss positive aspects of the group task so that the group can learn from the experience and apply those lessons to the next task.
Second, mature organizational learning groups develop an ability to “reflect in action,” to bring more deliberation and thought to those times when they honestly need to do something (A Simple Introduction to Organizational Learning (http://www.systemsprimer.com/what_is_org_learning.htm).”
While reflection is important in organizational learning there can be no learning without an action taking place.
To fully understand how organizational learning works one can examine its use in a specific organization. At Alyeska Pipeline Service the training teams use organizational learning almost across the board.
The company trains more than 1,800 employees who span an 800-mile geographic area for the pipeline (Case Study: Training on the Last Frontier (http://www.clomedia.com/content/templates/clo_section.asp?articleid=229&zoneid=101).
Understandably, Alyeska is challenged by the logistics of training a workforce that is spread across the 800-mile pipeline. And because the company runs one of the most heavily regulated pipelines in the world — the Department of Transportation, the Bureau of Land Management and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources are just a few of the agencies regulating the pipeline, it is imperative to track learners’ progress to ensure that they are meeting regulatory requirements (Case Study: Training on the Last Frontier (http://www.clomedia.com/content/templates/clo_section.asp?articleid=229&zoneid=101).”
This company’s use of organizational learning is an exemplary example of how it can be done.
Much of the required training for the company is of a regulatory and technical nature. These areas and styles of training provide a perfect back drop for the steps in organizational learning.
One example of the use of organizational learning in the company is the developmental training that deals with the soft skills.
The company uses the Plateau learning management system which provides an ability to incorporate organizational learning steps even given the distance between employees who take part in the training session. Distance learning
The system allows the company to use something called blended learning. It provides the opportunity through the use of software for employees to learn a new concept or skill, then reflect on that action with others through distance abilities on computers.
This fosters individual learning as the individuals at the remote sites learn the new skills and concepts and it also provides the needed platform for organizational learning through the ability to telecommunicate with each other about what they learned and how they might apply that to the next task or action that they will be taught.
Organizational learning allows the participants to take part in an action, then reflect on that action and use those reflections in the next action. It is about individual learning and collective learning. Organizational learning really incorporates the multiple learning style theory as it provides several different approaches to cement the same concepts and skills for the individuals of the training group.
Organizational learning was implemented in the case study as the ability to communicate with others was provided by the company through a software program.
Simple Introduction to Organizational Learning (accessed 06-10-06)
Case Study: Training on the Last Frontier (accessed 06-10-06)
Organizational learning (accessed 06-10-06)