Action Learning and Coaching at LG

Karen E. Watkins, Ph.D.
Professor of Human Resource & Organization Development
The University of Georgia
 Context– A Knowledge Economy Amid Economic
 Repositioning Learning as part of the organization’s
DNA-Learning our way through
 Creating A Learning Organization
 Strategically intervening
o First Diagnose where the organization is now
o Focus interventions on culture and leadership
o Design learning in and through work– learning to take
 OECD Report- The Global Picture
 GDP fell 4.1%
 Unemployment from 5.9% in 2008, to 8.5% in 2009 and 9.8%
projected for 2010
 Goods and services traded fell by 16% globally
 OECD/APEC Reports– Regional Differences
 China from 9% in 2008 to 7.7% in 2009 and back up to 9.3%
in 2010
 India from 6.5% growth in 2008 to 5.9% in 2009 and 7.2% in
 U.S.– down significantly in GDP, slight increase of .9%
projected for 2010
 For individuals, financial Instability leads to
 Widespread fear of job loss
 Fear of disclosure, of sharing knowledge
 More people doing the work of 2 or 3 people
 Postponing retirement, and older than average employees
 High need to learn new skills, to perform well
 With lower morale, less time, less cognitive capacity
 Need for Financially-Strapped Governments to focus support on most
 Retraining unemployed
 Support for displaced workers [food, shelter, health insurance]
 Yet cannot do this when also shoring up banks, major industries
 A Knowledge Economy Is
Where the Generation and
Exploitation of Knowledge
Plays the Predominant Part
in the Creation of Wealth
 Permeates the Whole
Economy, Not Just the
Computer and
 Foundation -- a Highly
Skilled Labor Force
 Trends of particular importance in a financial
downturn include
 Rethinking workplace learning as creating a
learning infrastructure and
 Changing organizational capacity to learn. We
do this by
 Emphasizing leadership development—changing
mental models
 Creating a learning infrastructure that includes
formal, informal, and technology-enabled learning
approaches – an option rich modular design
 Fostering organizational responsibility for creating a
learning culture
 Human resource
development is "the field of
study and practice
responsible for the fostering
of a long-term, work-related
learning capacity at the
individual, group and
organizational levels within
 Learning must be part of the
DNA of the organization
 Watkins and Marsick (1993) define the learning
organization as “one that learns continuously and
transforms itself…
 Learning is a continuous, strategically used process—
integrated with and running parallel to work” (p.8).
 The model emphasizes three key components:
 1) systems-level, continuous learning;
 2) in order to create and manage knowledge outcomes;
 3) that lead to improvement in the organization’s performance,
and ultimately its value, as measured through both financial
assets and non-financial intellectual capital
Learning organizations
facilitate learning
within and between
 Individuals
 Teams
 Organization
 Environment
Leaders model learning
Connect the
to its environment
Empower people toward
a collective vision
Establish systems to
capture and share
Encourage collaboration
and team learning
Promote inquiry &
Create continuous
learning opportunities
 Learning is…
 the way in which people
make meaning, acquire
knowledge & skill
 To support individual
learning, the organization
needs to…
 Create continuous
learning opportunities
 Promote dialogue and
Team Learning is….
 Mutual construction of
new knowledge
 Capacity for
collaborative action
Encourage collaboration
and team learning
 Organizational learning is…
 Organizational mental models,
schema, “karma in the walls and
 How vision, strategy, culture,
leadership, structure, processes,
communication, management
practices, etc. come together to
support & align learning with
mission and goals
 To Support Organizational
Learning, the Organization
 Establish systems to capture
and share learning
 Empower people toward a
collective vision
 Global learning is….
 Thinking globally and
 Crossing boundaries of
environmental or societal impact,
including those that affect the
quality of life and morale of
people connected with the
 Embodied in leaders who “live” a
learning culture -- walk the talk
 To Support Global Learning, the
Organization Must..
 Connect the organization to its
 Have leaders who model and
support learning at all levels
Learning organizations have systems that:
 Capture
 Share
 Use
Leaders must champion this.
 Lack of investment in early
2000’s left many
organizations behind
 Realize focus on leadership
development is imperative
 Extensive use of informal
learning strategies such as
action learning, executive
 Creating a Learning
 A learning culture is one in which learning is a
deliberate part of the organization’s strategy
 Change is understood to be a learning process- and
change is continuous
 Leaders model learning themselves, reward
learning, and use mistakes as opportunities to learn
 The Little Boy and the Ice Box
 Air Traffic Controllers Study
 The School Superintendent Study
 Develop individual capabilities
 To know self and impact on others
 To develop communication and
You as a
influencing skill
 To effectively coach others
 Develop high performance teams
 To effectively solve complex, cross-
functional problems
 To empower people to enact the
organization’s vision
 Build organizational capacity
 To transform
 To develop a culture of learning
Adapted from Reg Revans
In Action Learning, people:
 Use work on a real business
problem to develop and learn
 Work in teams, take action
to solve problem
 Learn how to learn from
 Helped by learning coach to
balance work with “learning-fromexperience”
 And by changing themselves--
change the organization
 Action Learning is a primary example
 Starts with a real problem
 Draws on relevant knowledge
 Analysis of the problem
 Trial of solutions in the organization
 Test is what works-- actual business results
 In this economic context it could
be argued that the survivors will
be those with the strongest pool
of talent, most able to handle
change and uncertainty.
 Human capital resources are the
bedrock of organizational
capacity– our hope for the future.
 Organizations structured to
recruit and develop talented
people, led by individuals able to
work across borders of many
kinds, hard-wired to promote,
capture and share learning, will
have the core competencies
needed in uncertain times.