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Organizational Learning Practices and Leadership Essay


Discuss Ricardo Semler’s leadership style – does his leadership conform to the ideas of Senge and Garvin on the leadership of learning organizations?

Ricardo Semler introduced a hands-free type of leadership immediately after taking over as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) from his father. He began by hiring a new kind of workforce that was more proactive and energetic. It was contrary to the type of employees who were working under his father. The latter preferred the traditional kind of leadership. According to Ricardo Semler, a centralized leadership method would enable employees to act independently like adults since it would encourage a sense of responsibility.

It would equally lower the intensity of supervision of workers. To attain these goals, he started by sending away all the top employees of the company. The new group that was hired was encouraged and permitted to carry out self-performance appraisals and determine their productivity levels. Besides, employees were expected to rate themselves in terms of the amount they were expecting to be paid based on individual performance. There was no specific code of dressing or well-set office settings. On the other hand, Senge and Garvin’s idea on the leadership of learning organizations propose a transformative style of leadership. Although the two styles of leadership sound different, they are practically the same.

Do good organizational learning practices ensure organizational sustainability?

It is imperative to note that contemporary management and research practices have received considerable attention on the concept of organizational learning. This can be explained by the fact that a well-devised and established organizational learning is capable of improving or stabilizing the sustainability needs of an organization. Past empirical research studies have indicated that one of the strategies of improving organizational performance entails a well developed and supported organizational learning platform. It is worth to mention that the field of project management in any industry is largely affected by both social and environmental factors. As a result, the management of projects in organizations demands regular and sustainable change. Organizational learning enables organizations to cope with myriads of both positive and negative changes that may be experienced during the lifetime of an organization.

Although organizational learning has been lauded as an important ingredient in the performance of organizations, it is only the learning field that embodies sustainability that can inject a positive ripple effect into an organization. On the same note, organizational learning facilitates the desire for innovation and creativity in organizations. When the latter aspects are duly implemented in an organization, the competitive edge of an organization will be boosted leading to the future sustainability of the project at hand.

What are three facets of knowledge for Yang, and how does he define learning?

The article by Yang puts forward the relevance of adult learning as well as the theory of knowledge. According to the author, there are three indivisible facets of knowledge. These are emancipatory, implicit, and explicit facets. Also, Yang proposes that three layers are attached to each of the three facets of knowledge. These layers include orientation, manifestation, and foundation. To define and understand learning, the author notes that the dialectical perspective should be correlated with the holistic theory to establish the link between the three facets of knowledge. Explicit knowledge is depicted when there is vivid and definite psychological apprehension that can be transmitted in both chronological and formal formats. This kind of knowledge is usually codified and is largely used to differentiate between authentic and false aspects. The affective aspect of knowledge makes up the emancipatory facet. It is usually replicated in what happens in the outer world. It is also laden with value and emotionally affective. The behavioral make-up of knowledge usually comprises of the tacit or implicit facet. It is a kind of learning that lacks open or vivid expression. Finally, Yang defines learning as a change in one or more of the knowledge facets.

What are the three major approaches to knowledge, according to Yang?

According to the author, the western rational tradition is the first approach to knowledge. This approach entails a non-subjective aspect of learning. It is also referred to as the empirical-analytic paradigm. According to this approach, there are myriads of assumptions that are put forward in terms of knowledge and reality. Mental representations do not affect the existence of reality according to this objectivist paradigm. Besides, knowledge is believed to be non-subjective. This approach to knowledge also purports that the transmission of appropriate representations can be made possible through the process of education. The latter can be attained using a valid scientific test that can relate to the real world and mental assumptions.

The second type of approach entails the interpretation of the existing paradigms. This is why it is known as the interpreter paradigm. According to this approach, knowledge is perceived to be non-objective and is largely constituted by former encounters that an individual has gone through in life. The critical theory forms the third approach to knowledge and asserts that any act of learning is made up of a transformational process. In other words, the critical theory approach notes that knowledge is not merely acquired for the sake of it. It has to transform the recipient.

Should knowledge sharing be available to all levels of the organization or restricted only to senior staff?

It is evident from the case study presented in the Ashton article that knowledge sharing should not be restricted to the top management of an organization only. For instance, it is imperative to mention that all employees of an organization are integral in the eventual articulation of the set goals and objectives. Besides, the senior staff is mainly mandated to play some supervisory or management roles as the lower level employees work tirelessly hard to achieve the set goals. If the link between the senior staff and the subordinate employees is broken, then it will imply that the flow of information and feedback processes will be shortchanged. There is a lot of coordination and collaborative efforts that take place between junior and senior staff. On the same note, there are certain specific facets of knowledge that the junior staff understands best. Hence, unless such knowledge is shared across the board, then the concept of organizational learning and internal growth will not be attained at all. On the same note, the senior members of staff should share what they understand with the junior employees so that the work process and cycle are completed successfully.

Does Gorelick believe organizational learning and learning organizations can co-exist? What type of learning is required for this to happen?

The author is quite upbeat that the two parameters can co-exist. The nature of learning required for this to happen successfully should entail an in-depth learning cycle that should also be practiced for a relatively long period.

Organizational learning entails the assumption of a unique culture of responsibility and accountability whereby both the junior workforce and management maintain strong accountability towards their various responsibilities. Most top managers who are keen on enhancing the management of knowledge have particularly achieved this aspect as their employees maintain strong knowledge of the production process.

Hence, organizational learning is largely aimed at boosting the knowledge requirements of an organization. This implies that organizational learning can be used as a formidable platform through which knowledge can be acquired and evenly transferred to all employees. On the other hand, a learning organization is considered to be a sum of all learning processes acquired by stakeholders. In organization learning, personal mastery is not necessarily driven by the senior members of staff. The latter case makes a learning organization to seek how best it can influence the culture of an organization towards learning. Also, shared visions and learning that takes place within various teams within an organization usually makes a learning organization to have a shared aim at all levels of application.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of reflection and using a reflective cycle to review our practice?

One of the merits of using a reflective cycle is that definite questions are readily made available to the practitioner. The same questions can then be handled or addressed in a systematic order. A reflective cycle attempts to offer various suggestions on how each emerging question can be tackled. For example, the action plans are clearly stated after answering the question on the possible occurrence of the challenge. Also, each of the problem parameters is described in detail so that the practitioner can have the right bearing on how to address them. After the description process, the feelings of the practitioner are also given a chance as part and parcel of defining the prevailing problems. Moreover, the evaluation process followed by analysis, and finally the concluding remarks offer a thorough redress of the problems at hand and how best they can be resolved. However, the reflective cycle may not meet certain expectations. For example, this model is known to be quite retrospective and does not seem to move ahead in terms of seeking much-needed solutions. In other words, the practitioner might be confused with the cycle of analyses and ideas.

Describe Kolb’s experiential learning model and the stages of the reflective cycle it entails.

There are four unique learning models or styles that have been highlighted in Kolb’s experimental learning model. These models are also known as styles. The models are also described as the training cycles. According to Kolb, there are various styles of learning portrayed by different types of people. On the same note, all of us have unique experimental cycles of learning styles.

According to the experimental learning theory presented by Kolb, the cycle of learning is integral. The cycle contains four stages or learning levels. Hence, concrete or immediate encounters offer the background for subsequent observations and reflections. Moreover, abstract concepts are made up of both observations and reflections. Therefore, Kolb’s model highlights how a cycle of four stages affects learning among individuals. However, it is worth mentioning that the 4-stage cycle is further divided into two broad levels to enhance understanding. The first stage entails the Concrete Experience which is usually taken as the basis of all the four stages. It is then followed by Relative Observation. Besides, the stage is known as Abstract Conceptualization. The last stage in this 4-stage cycle is the Active Experimentation stage.


Ashton, D. N. (2004). International Journal of Training and Development, 8(1), 43-53. Web.

Forrest, M. E. (2008). Health Information & Libraries Journal, 25(3), 229-232. Web.

Gorelick, C. (2005). The Learning Organization, 12(4), 383-388. Web.

Semler, R. (2001). Maverick!: The success story behind the world’s most unusual workplace. Random House.

Semler, R. (2004). The seven-day weekend: Changing the way work works. Penguin.

Yang, B. (2003). Human Resource Development Review, 2(2), 106-129. Web.

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