Learning Organizations
What they are and how to build them

Business magazine after business magazine has named GE Chairman Jack Welsh as the world's "manager of the century".
General Electric was founded more than a century ago by America's greatest inventor, Thomas Edison. Welsh is credited with reinventing it four times in the past 19 years. Asked whether GE will look the same in 20 to 30 years' time as it does today, Welsh replies: "I doubt it. I hope it will be the greatest learning institution in the world."

And GE is a typical high-profile leader of widespread moves to turn all effective organizations into learning organizations.

The world's top-selling book in 1999, The Learning Revolution, by Gordon Dryden and Dr. Jeannette Vos, considers the trend so important, they have devoted an entire chapter to Tomorrow's business world, subtitled Big growth opportunities for 'the learning organization'.

They forecast a growing marriage between education and business, and provide models from five related areas:

  • Electronic, interactive, multimedia software presents almost unlimited potential for learning and education.
  • Accelerated learning skills, in particular, provide virtually-untapped business opportunities.
  • Successful manufacturing and retailing companies can prosper even more by selling services: by providing the training necessary for customers to use their products much more effectively.
  • Every successful company has to become a continuous learning organization, and every individual needs to continue to relearn throughout life.
  • Schools and colleges can follow university research departments in using their expertise to form strategic alliances with businesses.
The book cites many examples of each concept in action. One of its favorite models is the development of Silicon Valley around Stanford University.


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