You just became an owner of a small manufacturing business employing about ten people.
You wish to build "a learning organization".
What will you do, and why?
Include a schedule for your actions.
As a new layer of group consciousness, I would teach a Systems Thinking class, using the following books by Peter Senge,
The Fifth Discipline, The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization , and
The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, Strategies and Tools For Building A Learning Organization .
1) This Systems Thinking class would be held during working hours, so that the employees will not resent the new approach. Extended group meetings are set for once weekly, on Wednesday, from 1pm to 5pm, with shorter impromptu sessions to occur spontaneously, whenever a group decision needs to be made.
2) We would use Senge's and similar group dialogue exercises, as techniques, while also making RECORDINGS of the new, more creative, more RightBrained ideas that will be coming thru.
3) To encourage more RightBrained wholistic thinking, we would bring in new software or new project management games, to keep everybody engaged in learning as "learning-for-its- own-sake", for the thrill of discovery ("choose to"). We would de-emphasize or eliminate as much as possible, the traditional LeftBrained testing and studying ("have to") practices.
4) We would praise and reward the students (employees) for the good ideas they come up with, soon after the expression of the ideas, and then also
5) tie a percentage of actual profit from those ideas to be paid to the person who contributed that idea, in effect, sponsoring each employee asif they had their own cost center within the company, giving them a mind space to think like they were in their own business, yet in the more stable atmosphere of the larger company.
6) We would develop a dynamic, non-stagnant thinking approach to all pre-existing policies. Rethink everything, and convert almost every decision to a group decision. This would keep everybody fully awake and performing at their full potential, rather than holding back with unspoken resentments. It also utilizes the feedback ideas that naturally occur to the worker actually performing the work. It automatically brings the feedback loop to where it should be.
7) We would delete most "telling" management practices, like "dominance and submission" practices of packs of dogs in the wilderness, replacing it with group reasoning processes: dialogue and discussion on teams and Special Interest Groups, where ideas will be true, in and of themselves, and not because of who speaks them. In my company, Reasoning using the cerebral cortex will overcome dictatorial "dominance and submission" thinking with older brain layers. Any employees who can not change over within 90 days, and remained dictatorial would be politely asked to seek employment elsewhere. If they could not find other work within an additional 90 days, they would be asked to resign. If they did not resign, they would be fired.
8) I would encourage each employee/student to work on their own personal vision, trying to make a coherent story of all their higher aspirations, their heart's desires, together with their down-to-earth, everyday needs, balancing long-range and short-range needs, recording all the unfinished gestalts that they have simmering on the back burner of their agendas.
I would not punish any employee who was unable or unwilling to share this personal vision, but would reward any who did by praise and encouragement, and where possible, with making small steps toward helping them to actualize some items of their vision.
For developing personal vision rough drafts, I would allow one lunar cycle, starting about six weeks into the process. After that, I would encourage each employee to use my technique of goal redefinition during the 72-hour period before each New Moon, for lunar cycles, and the 72-hour period before the Winter Solstice, for the solar cycle. If they did not understand it, that is okay, just remind them about the Farmers Almanac.
As keeper of the central vision, I would keep a shared vision diagram, showing a large circle with icons for each task or project, that are held in common, that is, shared, and with similar icons for tasks or projects not in common, in outer areas of the circle, keeping these in mind as satellite cost centers that we could do cooperating projects with, as if they were other businesses in the community. In other words, find ways to include these non-shared elements, in another level of consciousness, unless of course, these are at cross-purposes.
[ insert a sample of overlapping circles, and some icons ]
9) I would establish informal mentorship Special Interest Groups around skills offered as Tutoror and skills needed as Tutoree. This same model could help generate lists of courses that should be offered at the local community college. It could also identify knowledgeable people who would like to teach a class maybe even outside the context of actually being hired as an employee of the college. To encourage mentorship within the company, I would set up sample contracts, that would also reward the mentors who assist someone in any ideas that produce measurable profits. In other words, the person asking for a mentor, is agreeing to share their monetary reward on a particular marketable idea that might result from this partnership.
10) I would spend some time every week, and a little time everyday, asking each participant how it is going, are they getting STUCK on something, are they learning something new that is valuable to them, and a growth experience, i.e., find possible hangups early before their consciousness can stabilize in that mental space, and ease their way into getting past that obstacle, or maybe reassigning them to a different path that is more mentally refreshing for them. Try to find new areas where they would like to start learning, to keep the learning organization model evolving. Remember also to keep bringing things back to center, periodically, and let each one spend some time bringing things to a closure, mentally, like finishing projects. If any person has difficulty changing mental gears, I would offer my knowledge on stress & nutrition, because heavy mental work uses up the same nutrients as stress.
11) We would all treat all employees like family and neighbors and friends. These relationships should be encouraged as part of the wholistic nature of the evolution of the shared vision; almost like getting married, we are building a little world of our own.
12) I would ask each employee for writings as feedback on how the change process is progressing, and how it is affecting them, especially in the differences in their thinking. How do they experience this change process? What does it do to them that they notice? Are they getting hungup or stuck anywhere? I would ask for feedback on getting hungup or stuck as soon as they notice. Other feedback might be reported as they feel spontaneously led to express it to me, or I might have to ask some more reticent individuals who don't feel as expressive.
13) We could have social functions together periodically, like a picnic where spouses and children can attend, so that team members get to know each other in more dimensions, and it would not hurt if they did feel like a big extended family. We are all social animals, who have begun life as a team, listening to our mother's heartbeat. We function best when we are in a group, not alone. Knowing our teammates in more dimensions makes our mental models of them less static, and more dynamic and non-stagnant. There is less chance of resentment building up, those little walls between people that block communication.
14) I would ask for feedback from our main clients or customers, every quarter, on how the change to a "learning organization" company has affected them. If there is enough interest, I would consider teaching a systems thinking class that they could attend, after our working hours, so that they could take these principles back to their own companies. I would help them order the books at their own expense, but we would teach the class at no charge. I would work to develop workbooks or some other kind of documentation on how to teach a systems thinking class, so that the change process can spread properly. I would encourage any company that wanted to blurr the line between work and school, offering courses at their company building, for instance, like a Spanish class I took at TRW during lunch, in '74.
15) I would encourage all the employees asking customers what their other related unmet needs are. Can we find something else they would need help with from us, to develop new products and services in the future? We should make the company customer-driven, that is, evolve the company around the needs of the customers, when we find a strong enough need building up, find out how to perform that service, or manufacture that product. Why work so hard on a new product or service that no one wants to buy? Go at it the right way. Find the market first, then develop the product or service.
16) I would teach and we would work to collapse any hierarchial role-playing "telling" or dictatorial behavior, to equals, "friends-and-neighbors" levels-of-consciousness; believing as I do, that we are all carbon copies of the same One Being. When we understand that on higher levels, we are the same Being, it becomes easier to help each other, and be in tune with each other's hurts, to become empathetic, feeling compassion and keeping our heart chakras open, so that each has his or her own connection between their heart and head ON.
17) I would encourage the employees in increasing their computer skills, and if some felt programming was interesting, I would steer them towards developing with Visual Basic. I would also teach them the value of documenting technical problem solutions.
18) I would work toward gradually blurring the difference between work and play, and between work and school, letting it be okay to love your work, and have a smile on your face at work. If we see anyone who looks depressed or unhappy, we should wonder what would make them feel more fulfilled at work. If we can't diversify enough to accommodate someone, they probably know somewhere else they would rather be, like running a restaurant or free-lancing.
19) I would try to set up a continuum of opportunities from part-time to full-time, and from full-time employee to part-time free-lancer or subcontractor or consultant. As some people outgrow their present role, and start thinking about going to work for another company, we might want to restructure their role to expand into management or marketing or wherever their interests have taken them.
20) We would be loose about giving permission for time off when family emergencies come up, and arranging extra tasks for off-hours or weekends, so that they can make up the hours that they took off. Or they could use up their personal sick leave time. Flexibility should be the rule, without encouraging too much absenteeism. We should work to have TRUST between team members.
21) As a person well aware of how hypoxia can affect brain function, I would avoid negativity by ensuring adequate ventilation, also assure that each work area has some natural sunlight, or full-spectrum lighting. Especially up in these Northern climates, light becomes important in the winter, when most people don't go outside much, and stay indoors around their fire, or where they are cozy and warm.
I would be alert to employees comments about the indoor air quality, and try to install exhaust vents near each fume-generating copy machine or laser printer, etc. I would also install energy recovery ventilators, to conserve on the utility bill, yet create an air change of at least .5 per hour.
I would install automatic timers on printers and monitors, to turn them off if no one is using the computer for a while. This will reduce indoor air pollution.
22) We would try to become aware of electromagnetic radiation from computers, and other appliances like microwave ovens, and utilize devices to neutralize these energy fields, if any are found that really affect it. Otherwise, we should limit human exposure to two hours on a computer at one time. Arrange things so that when they sit for their other tasks, the computers are not still affecting them.
23) We would identify employees who are having difficulty changing to the New Thinking, and give them more nurturing. Sometimes the grumpiest ones are the ones who need more love. We all have a RightBrain trying to get thru all the LeftBrain chatter, so we must remain patient and assure them that it is okay to let their imagination take over for short time periods. Some people's religious brainwashing has been telling them to distrust their own RightBrain, so we have to be gentle about this, at least for a while. If they can't make the cross-over, after the time period described above, we have a plan to help them find other employment.
24) Being a writer and a desktop publisher, I would publish a company newsletter; recording progress in making the changes, and documenting each stage of change-over, for use in other companies. Each employee could submit files of their viewpoint, and we would prepare a final version which could be copied from a disk file for those who want to read it. Those who do not want to read it would not be wasting their copy. Back copies would always be available from disk files.
A newsletter will be established, as "annals", RECORDING the process and helping to make it MANIFEST. Whenever we make RECORDINGS, it changes the thought frequency of the atoms that are affected, and all the other atoms and molecules, everywhere, because each atom is the resultant of all the atoms around it, which I learned in Chemistry classes (Dirac's Ocean). The most important part of the process is always making recordings.
25) All employees should understand that sometimes we learn best by making mistakes, so it is okay to make mistakes, so do not lie, or try to hide our mistakes. Blaming and guilt and shame are not part of the learning organization.
26) We would encourage non-confrontational issue-resolution procedures, where no one is "all right", or "all wrong", but where there is a higher level of reality where we can all agree, a "win-win" kind of negotiation. In fact, thru this process, we probably will learn more about the human brain and how this kind of systemic change affects it.
27) I would try to practice an open heart chakra myself, by spending time meditating on compassion----the secret lock to that chakra----whether others do or not. The importance here being that when the heart chakra is open, it is connected to the brain, and lends its wisdom to that intelligence of the brain.
On a deeper level:
It will be an ongoing, evolving, self-organizing process, unfolding like a flower blossom.
The schedule of these changes unfolding, will be partly a series of conscious projections into the future, "projecting ahead, into a probable future, of our own construction", planning the process as a series of steps, and partly the zig-zag process, back and forth between the new layer of reality that we are defining and building, and the old story, where we were before we started.
The number of days in the "new story" should be three or more consecutive days of each week, since it takes a 72-hour period to reset the thought frequency of the atoms. On the remaining days of each week, the employees can return to their "old story" self, gradually talking it into the new layer of reality.
This process will be a gradual process, because the thought frequencies of the atoms of the bodies of the employees, obeying a different set of laws, will only become reset at their own speed.
I, as owner, could require that the employees take the classes and contribute, up to a point. As the teacher of the class, I could set the milestones of trying to learn certain topics, but the actual reality changes and new mental models will unfold on each person's own time frame. Like "The Law of The Farm", certain changes take time to take root, and develop and blossom.
As a Reality Projection, trying to get the RightBrain and unconscious to get these things done faster, with a date certain, we could set a definite date certain and time for each task to be done, whether we rationally expect it to be done by then or not. The subconscious already knows the answers tomost questions anyway, so it just has to deliver on time, which it will, if we will only ASK.
What is a normal amount of time to effect this kind of changeover?
A small company with full participation could expect to be gradually converting their company policies to the new model over a two year period. The first series of Systems Thinking classes would take about one semester, or twelve weeks. A second twelve week period would be needed to fully develop a shared vision that everyone could support and feel energized about. From there, there would be phases where we would start lots of new projects, probably too many, and then periods of taking stock and bringing things to a closure, i.e., finishing projects.
By the end of two years, the most rigid and intractable dictatorial thinkers will have left the company and the people who like the new style company will have had time to get settled into the new whole-brained thinking. The weekly group dialogue sessions are probably even more productive than in the beginning, and the company is experiencing a new period of growth, having expanded to 24 people, especially in the marketing and distribution departments. Further expansion in the near future is in the plans, waiting until certain new contracts are negotiated.