A learning Organization and Investors in People
A learning organization is one that is mainly characterized by a continuous transformation process. In order to become a learning organization, Iles and Sutherland (2001) have laid out the following characteristics a business would have to achieve:
- Networking of managerial hierarchy: Learning organizations do not have a rigid, vertical hierarchical framework which is based upon traditional practices where an employee reports to his or her boss. The hierarchical structure in a learning organization supports teamwork and strong lateral relations, which helps to facilitate networking across all sections of the organization and is based upon a strong system of support within the organization, both internally and externally.
- Open organizational culture: A learning organization promotes flexibility in operations. It encourages its members to be creative and innovative. It also encourages them to take risks if necessary and not be afraid of failure – in this way, the best end results are achieved as an organization adapts to its changing environment and discovers innovative new ways to deal with the changes.
- Introduction of sophisticated information systems: Transformational changes mandates the use of information, not merely for control as in traditional organizations, but for the purposes of effective absorption, processing and transfer of information within the organization to enhance the acquisition of knowledge.
- Enhancing human resources: Improving human resource systems through praise and support of individual learning systems in order to promote efficient long term performance of employees. A learning organization recognizes people as its most precious resource.
- Effective leadership: A learning organization has brave and fearless leaders who are prepared to take risks necessary for learning and to provide inspiration and encouragement to others in the organization.
The need for learning organizations has developed in the context of the rapidly changing environment and the increasing competition that exists, which has resulted in traditional methods of success enhancement failing. Therefore, new standards have been sought in order for an organization to be able to transform itself and adjust profitably to changes in its environment. By recognizing the need to promote learning and to make optimum use of human resources, an organization can achieve the desired end of profitability and competitiveness. Increased networking and flexibility are vital to help and organization and by implementing the measures listed above, a business can indeed transform itself.
- “Investors in People” is a national standard that was set up in the U.K. in 1993, in order to establish the levels of good practice and training to help businesses achieve their goals.(www.iipuk.co.uk). The philosophy behind this standard is that it is the people who represent the strength of an organization. Therefore, a business that is an Investor in People is fully committed to developing its human resources in order to achieve the aims and goals of its organization. The standards that are set are focused upon effective planning to set out the objectives of an organization and then developing people to meet those objectives. In this way, a cyclical phenomenon is set up whereby people are motivated to do what the organization wants them to do and in way, the cyclical nature of the events ensure that a process of continuous transformation takes place within the organization. As changes take place in the environment outside, the organization changes accordingly and adapts by the changes encouraged through innovation.
Progress is achieved by setting out a clear goal for the organization and ensuring that people understand these goals and their importance in achieving those objectives. Their skills are enhanced through training programs and by ensuring that each person understands his or her role in the organization and the importance of his/her contribution to its success. Managers are also given training and knowledge is imparted to them about effective management of human resources. The limitation of this new standard lies in the fact that there is sometimes too much of focus on this aspect while other equally important aspects necessary for the success of an organization are ignored, such as investment in infrastructure. It also becomes difficult to maintain adequate controls with a more diffuse, networked people centered system.
In view of this new standard of focusing on human resources, the Government has also initiated programs for Vocational education and training, which are based upon the same goal of focusing on human resources and improving it through training, so that business goals may be achieved in a competitive environment. The aim of the vocational training programs is to impart the kind of education to students that will ensure that they meet the demands of employers and help students to acquire the skills that they will actually be putting to use in a working environment. This initiative by the U.K. Government has been welcomed by employers and workers alike as a means to transform the skills of the nation’s workers and employers. This vocational training program is similar to the Investors in people initiative because it also concentrates funds into the development of people and enhancement of their skills, in order to improve the way in which businesses function and enhance their productivity in a competitive environment.
- Iles, V and Sutherland K, 2001. “Managing Change in the NHS. London: NHS Service
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- “Investors in People: The Standard”: Retrieved 08/30/2005 from
- Pedler, Mike, Burgoyne, John and Boydell, Tom, 1991. “The Learning Company: a
strategy for Sustainable development” McGraw-Hill.