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Learning Organisation at Project-Focused Companies Report


The competitiveness of enterprises is dependent on their ability to modify existing practices and policies. The management should be aware of various internal and external factors that can impact the performance of businesses. In turn, one can argue that learning in organisations is an essential prerequisite for their success because it can make them more responsive to changes. Additionally, business administrators should know why this process can be hindered. They also need to identify strategies that can promote learning. Therefore, one should explain how this concept can be relevant to project-focused companies.

The definition of a learning organisation

Overall, a learning organisation can be described as a company or a governmental agency that has the capability to create, acquire and transfer knowledge (Cook, Staniforth, & Stewart 1997, p. 152). Furthermore, it can quickly respond to changes in the external or internal environment. Such enterprises can efficiently adjust their policies to new trends (Cook, Staniforth, & Stewart 1997, p. 152). The managers of these companies may try to achieve several goals.

For instance, they attach importance to such priorities as time-efficiency, cost reduction, employees’ participation in decision-making, and so forth. One can distinguish several traits of learning organisations. For instance, the managers of these businesses are willing to collect information from various stakeholders. In this way, they can evaluate the advantages or disadvantages of different strategies (Cummings & Worley 2014, p. 587). Furthermore, these enterprises do not have complex workplace hierarchies that slow down the flow of information (Cummings & Worley, 2014, p. 587).

The benefits of this approach for project-focused companies

The attributes of learning organisations are critical for businesses that regularly work on various projects. In many cases, these enterprises need to adjust to the strategies of competitors. For instance, other companies may introduce new products that can appeal to many clients. Thus, these companies need to change the scope of projects as soon as possible. They may need to do it at the time when they have completed a significant part of the project.

Under such circumstances, these organisations should identify new objectives and achieve them. These issues are discussed by Helga Drummond (1999) who studies the failure of project TAURUS that was initiated by the London Stock Exchange. This technology was supposed to automatise the financial transactions. The problem is that developers continuously had to change the scope of the project. This difficulty could have been avoided provided that developers and end-users communicated with each other on a regular basis. Additionally, there were about 30 committees that had to monitor the performance of the project team (Drummond 1999, p. 12).

Nevertheless, they did not coordinate their actions. This project cost £ 500 million, but it did not produce any results (Drummond 1999). Furthermore, in many cases, project managers need to acquire new knowledge and skills to perform their tasks successfully (Havila, Medlin, & Salmi 2013). Apart from that, they should find a new approach to dealing with various stakeholders (Havila, Medlin, & Salmi 2013). These examples indicate that the strengths of learning organisations can be useful for project-focused companies.

The barriers and enablers to becoming a learning organisation

It is possible to consider several obstacles that impair learning in companies. At first, one should mention excessive bureaucracies. This argument can apply to enterprises that have many divisions or departments. In many cases, the employees of these companies do not know about the activities of one another. Some businesses can struggle with such difficulties as they grow. Additionally, learning can be impaired if there are no clear guidelines for sharing information.

Furthermore, managers can adopt an autocratic style of leadership (Chawla & Renesch, 2006, p. 244). As a result, workers can become reluctant to take initiatives. Moreover, they will not want to make any recommendations. Furthermore, many business administrators believe that learning is an individual activity. However, they do not promote team learning.

At the same time, several factors can contribute to learning in organisations. For instance, one can mention the use of open-door policies. This approach implies that employees can go to the office of senior executives almost at any time without asking for permission. This method is helpful for finding potential deficiencies at the early stages (Roussel 2011, p. 178). Additionally, the leaders of these companies attach importance to formulating a shared vision.

In other words, they try to set objectives that can inspire or motivate workers. Such individuals are more likely to communicate with one another. Furthermore, such enterprises try to become flat organisations. They want to reduce the number of levels in the workplace hierarchy (Burford, 2012). This approach ensures that senior executives can frequently interact with employees or at least frontline managers. Finally, the managers of these businesses want to act like democratic and transformational leaders. Thus, learning is dependent on various factors. One can mention such aspects as the structure of a company, the leadership style of managers, workplace procedures, and the organisational approach to employees’ learning.

Examples of learning organisations

One can provide several examples illustrating the best practices of companies. Many of them represent the IT industry because this economic sector is driven by innovations. The executives of these enterprises attach importance to the transfer of knowledge between different units. They usually try to reduce the number of departments. For instance, one can mention Facebook. The senior executives of this enterprise lay stress on the openness of culture.

This approach is reflected even in the design of its offices. In particular, the employees work in an open space that is not divided into various rooms. In turn, workers know about the projects implemented by their colleagues. Furthermore, the managers of this organisation emphasise the need to communicate with different stakeholders. For instance, they regularly interact with clients because this cooperation is essential for improving the design of their social networking site.

Apart from that, this corporation implements various training programmes for new hires (Mosley, 2014). As a result, this company can efficiently adjust to the changing needs of customers. It is one of the benefits that should be identified. A similar approach is adopted by other companies such as Google or Apple. Their executives choose this approach to ensure that these firms can regularly deliver innovative and customer-driven products and services.

The strategies of managers and the steps that should be taken

Managers can improve learning in organisations in several ways. At first, they should focus on HR practices such as the use of orientation programmes and mentorships. In this way, business administrators can help new hires integrate into the workplace. Additionally, one should consider the strategies that are required for reducing the impact of groupthink or peoples’ willingness to conform to the majority.

Sometimes, employees can accept the views of managers, even at the time when these views are based on false assumptions. In turn, a manager can encourage workers to submit their recommendations via email. In this way, a business administrator can learn about various valuable ideas. Unfortunately, this approach is often overlooked by senior executives. Leaders should also remember that an organisation is not just a set of divisions or departments. These entities are closely intertwined (Haines, 2000). Thus, these professionals should be skilled in systems thinking.

Apart from that, managers should create mechanisms for team learning (Marquardt 2011). For instance, one can create multidisciplinary teams that work on different projects. The combination of their skills can help them find innovative approaches to current problems. Furthermore, one should change the mindset of employees. In particular, they need to see that a company can achieve better results if different departments promote the transfer of knowledge between one another. One can reach this objective by focusing on case studies of successful companies.

A business administrator should consider other steps. In particular, this person should identify those bureaucratic mechanisms that hinder learning in the enterprise. For instance, he/she should eliminate excessive red tape in the company. In many cases, this problem can make people unwilling to share their ideas with managers. Finally, business administrators should empower employees. In particular, they should be allowed to spend at least five percent of their time on the projects that greatly appeal to them.


Overall, these examples suggest that learning organisations can better retain their sustainability because they can quickly identify possible risks and respond to them. One can say that managers can improve learning by focusing on the HR strategies of the enterprise. Furthermore, executives need to interact with customers who can identify possible inefficiencies in the work of businesses. Finally, business administrators should understand how different parts of the company interact with one another.


Burford, L 2012, Project Management for Flat Organizations: Cost Effective Steps to Achieving Successful Results, Ross Publishing, London.

Chawla, S & Renesch J 2006, Learning Organizations: Developing Cultures for Tomorrow’s Workplace, Productivity Press, London.

Cook, J, Staniforth, D & Stewart, J 1997, The Learning Organization in the Public Services, Gower Publishing, New York.

Cummings, T & Worley, C 2014, Organization Development and Change, Cengage Learning, New York.

Drummond, H 1999, ‘Are we any closer to the end?: escalation and the case of Taurus’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 17, no. 1, pp.11-16.

Haines, S 2000, The Complete Guide to Systems Thinking and Learning, Human Resource Development, New York.

Havila, V, Medlin, C & Salmi, A 2013, ‘Project-ending competence in premature project closures’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 31, no. 1, pp.90-99.

Marquardt, M 2011, Building the Learning Organization: Achieving Strategic Advantage through a Commitment to Learning, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, New York.

Mosley, D 2014, Supervisory Management, Cengage Learning, New York.

Roussel, L 2011, Management and Leadership for Nurse Administrators, Jones & Bartlett Publishers, New York.

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