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Question 01

This TMA has one question with three parts. You should answer them all. The questions in this assignment are all about different aspects of the process of exploring a complex situation: drawing different kinds of maps of it, recognizing how complex it is, identifying the different perspectives it can be viewed from, and stepping back to reflect on this whole process of exploration to see the strengths and weaknesses of the approach you have adopted, and how you might do it better.

Question 01

(a)Read through the attached article “The Learning organization ten years on: a case study”, by Peter Smith (1999), as you read through the article create one spray diagram to summarize the case content respecting the conventions, and techniques. It is advised that students submit hand drawn diagrams as opposed to computer generated ones. Photocopies of diagrams should not be accepted.
(b)Based on what you learned in T205B concept file 04 section II “Control”, and based on the content of the article, and taking “Creating a learning organization” as your goal draw one closed loop control model diagram to show the various inputs, and the transformation process, that can lead to reaching this goal. You need to show all the components of the control model diagram, the inputs’, processes, control (actuator, comparator, sensor), that can lead to goal achievement. Reflect on your diagram.

(c)Using an essay format of no more than 2100 and 2450 words, and based on what you learned in T205B concept file 04 section I “Organizations are They Rational”, readings 01 and 07, section III “Structure”, section IV development, section V culture and climate, and section VI “Decision Making” and based on the ideas put forth in the attached case study:

1-Discuss the concept of organizational learning, and assess how managers’ attitude and habits of thinking, can affect an organization’s ability to be a learning organization; base your argument on what you learned in T205B and the assigned article.

2-Discuss the obstructions to learning and assess how a split between espoused theory and theory in use can affect organizational learning.

3-Assess how an organization’s structure and culture (organizational and by extension national culture), can affect its learning ability and consequently its performance.

4-Assess how an organization’s climate, and the existence of the unwritten rules of behavior, how they can affect an organization’s learning ability.

5-Assess the role of systems thinking and describe the principles of systems thinking, analyse their effectiveness for management, for problem solving and for decision making I relation to material form concept file 04 and 05 as applicable.

(a)At this stage of the course you are expected to have developed good understanding of the purpose of drawing spray diagrams as part of applying the SUDA process for solving a messy situation. A spray diagram is the first type of diagrams drawn in the sensing phase of the SUDA process of mess analysis, in order to summarize the main ideas of a case, or the main components/elements of a situation. Please pay attention to the conventions and make sure that the central topic and other subtopics are relevant, and do make sense to the reader. Go back to T552 (Diagramming) the appendix to refresh your memory about the conventions.
(b)This is your first attempt at drawing control model diagram. The task should not be challenging though. Refer to Concept file 04 section II “Control”.  You need to draw a control model diagram to show how the selected inputs can reach the stated goal. You also need to illustrate clear, relevant, and non-overlapping inputs, clear and accurate transformation process and an output which is consistent with the goal. You also need to specify which organizational entity is in charge of assuming the role of each of the elements/components of the control model (i.e. actuator, sensor, and comparator). The parties in charge of performing each task within the control mechanism should be clearly identified. It is very important that your diagram is specific rather than generic. 

(c)Here you need to practice your analytical skills to assess what is required. Remember to start with a good introduction in which you define the assessed topic before moving on to explaining your plan for working on the TMA. In the body you should move on to assess the causes of the problems faced by Toyota and the impact of the organization’s structure, climate and decision making on its reaction to the problem. You also need to evaluate whether Toyota is a learning organization by relying on both theoretical principles and practical examples, and on the ideas presented in the assigned article. 

Question 01
  1. Closed Loop Diagram for the Article  the Learning organization ten years on: a case study

The article, the Learning organization ten years on: a case study posits that the mindsets of the managers of an enterprise are crucial for the viability of the change. To overcome the mindset problem which is inherent in many people, the organization makes an effort foster organization learning as a way of overcoming the problem of the mindset. However, the approach has not been successful in the last decade due to poor approaches to its implementation that have largely been impractical. Dealing with change can successfully be represented by the learning organization metaphor. Ensuring the mindset does not become set in their own ways and changing people’s thinking nd learning habits can help organizations achieve change effectively through learning. Organizational learning practices will help change the mindset and/ or overcome the mindset problem and create a learning organization. At each node, there are related issues that inform the actions taken in order to achieve change within the organization as the case study shows

  1. Closed loop control model diagram

For successful organizational change to occur in order to create the learning organization, there are inputs that are crucial to achieving change. The process starts with the planning phase where the managers plan on what changes they want and how to achieve them. This is followed by communicating these plans to staff and managers and interacting with decision makers to refine the plans. The change in the organization will be possible when barriers are removed and opportunity given to staff to function in a human manner instead of as resources within the process. Every member within the organization is given a chance to make a contribution and effort made to increase the effectiveness of the organization based on goals set in the planning phase. These inputs are controlled and result in transformative activities that include learning processes, creating an enabling environment. Learning processes and activities will include innovation and training to create new knowledge. These actions will result in the output which are the results of the change initiative. The changes will include behavioral changes which can be measured . Further, data is collected for purposes of reviewing whether the objectives have been met. Feedback loops are used to provide feedback on progress and performance at all three stages

  • Organization Learning refers to the process in which knowledge is created, retained, and then transferred within an organization, and as the organization gains experience over time, it also improves. The experience in creating and managing knowledge and gaining experience enables the organization to create knowledge (Matson 2007). The created knowledge is broad based and cover any subject or topic that can make the organization better. Organizational learning enables an organization to remain competitive and adapt to its environment through the creation of knowledge. It is a process improvement that can lead to increased efficiency, profitability, and productivity. The most important resource for an organization is its human resources, especially managers who are the decision makers that determine strategy and set the tone for organizational learning and change (Easterby-Smith, Araujo and Burgoyne, 1999). Attitudes refer to the mental and neural state of being ready, organized via experience, that exerts a dynamic or directive influence on the the way an individual responds to all situations and objects they are related. The attitudes of an individual pertain to their behavior; attitudes constitute a complex combination of things that are referred t as personality, values, beliefs, motivations, and behaviors (King 2009). The attitude of a manger towards issues has a direct impact on the culture that is cultivated in the organization, and this ultimately impacts organizational learning. Manager attitudes influence organizational culture; organizational culture refers to the values and beliefs that have been in an organization over a period of time. In the modern context, managers are essentially leaders; they motivate their staff and help set the tone for increased organizational performance. Organizational learning requires the active involvement and participation of all the employees; increasing the engagement and involvement of employees activity in the context of creating knowledge and using it in organizational learning depends largely on how the managers motivate and inspire the employees. Managers are directly in touch with their staff and can create lasting alliances with them, knowing their performance and learning needs. Organizational learning views the firm as one whole; like a large brain whose sum of parts are the employees and managers. Managers with positive attitudes and good leadership skills will understand adverse outcomes such as failure not be bad things, but  great opportunity for learning; the greatest learning comes from failure. Mangers with the right positive and forward looking attitudes and a habit of encouraging and motivating their employees, as well as leading by example will positively inspire their staff to create new knowledge to meet goals and help overcome failures. Such managers will be forthright in tackling ‘the elephant in the room’, encourage change, demonstrate positive leadership, encourage team dynamics, and create focus on the long term continuous improvement of the organization(Collinson and Cook, 2007) .
  • Obstructions to organizational learning : A culture of learning in an organization is crucial to th success and growth of the organization. However, there are factors or issues that can obstruct learning within the organization, with some barriers being difficult to overcome. One factor that can obstruct learning in the organization is resistance to change and stubbornness, especially by the major stakeholders such as decision makers and managers. While initial resistance to change, such as introduction of new processes is common, it must be overcome to enable organizational learning. Lack of, or poor direct leadership is another barrier to organizational learning; the leadership must be at the forefront in enhancing learning and change as well as performance improvement (Li et al., 2012). Managers and leaders must be involved in the training and development activities their staff engage in to ensure organizational learning takes lace. Exercising too much control will also hamper organizational learning as it frustrates the employees and creates a barrier to effective learning and change. When there is no value attached to learning; learning from failure or learning new ways to do things, then firm-wide organizational learning is also affected negatively. Further, lac or progressive action by leaders and managers in an organization will greatly hinder organizational learning. The theory of action that looks at what people say versus what people do. What people think about is the espoused theory, while theory (or theory in use) is what people do (Berta et al., 2015). The ability of individuals and organizations to act or take action is impacted by the dilemmas relating to the gap between the espoused and theory-in-use.  Between espoused and in use theories, there are incongruencies, inconsistencies, and defensive actions taken by organizations and people to avoid or mitigate the embarrassments that may accrue from the dilemmas especially where there is a tendency to constantly defend past actions. Dealing with the dilemmas requires action, and proactive approaches such as dealing with issues, including failures and that requires reflection to push people to take corrective action; a concept termed double loop learning. The theory in use must be effective in helping an organization learn and change to meet its goals on a continual basis; it must be compartmentalized from the espoused theory to ensure organizational effectiveness (Chiva, Ghauri and Alegre, 2013)
  • The corporate environment, organization’s strategies, the organizational structure in the organization, and the prevailing corporate culture are important factors that determine the probability of organizational learning. These factors influence the general organizational learning and individual learning within the organization. But the most important factor influencing organizational learning is its structure, followed by the culture in the organization. Organizational structure pertains to how people are grouped in order to accomplish work ans establishes the relationships between managers and workers, conferring authority to undertake responsibilities (María Martínez?León and Martínez?García, 2011). The structures chosen are based on how well they will enhance the performance of work responsibilities. A functional structure is hierarchical and pushes decision making as high up the hierarchy as possible, while a team structure enables a freer working space; both will have different outcomes in terms of performance. There is a firm connection between the organizational conditions and created knowledge from the organizational learning. The structure of an organization is a reflection of its formal scheme of communications, relationships, procedures, decision processes,and systems that enable the organization to develop functions and achieve its set objectives. The structure of the organization reflects how knowledge and information is distributed  and this impacts how efficiently they are utilized. The configuration of the organizational structure, therefore, either facilitates or impedes the organizations ability to learn, adapt to change, or innovate and improve its ability to create added value for customers. The organizational structure have varying but direct influences on the learning ability of the organization (Tseng and Lee, 2014). The organizational learning process is developed through different subjects; the structure of the organization defines how processes within that organization interact to give rise to the OLP (organizational learning process). Organizational learning is very firm specific; its structure plays a very significant role in driving and shaping organizational learning processes. Learning activities within an organization require direction and coordination and the methods used to attain such coordination have a central role in shaping the organizational learning processes and determining their outcomes. Further, information is required for learning processes; information flows are directly influenced by the organizational structure. There is a strong and positive correlation between organizational culture and organizational learning and these impact employee motivation and their productivity. A culture that encourages and enables creativity among employees is essential for the organization that seeks to learn and generate new knowledge, ideas, and products. The leaders in an organization are crucial in creating open and enabling environments where new ideas can b pro-actively crated and problems solved to generate new knowledge and competencies. The culture and environment in an organization is important in enabling organizational learning through provision of challenges to employees, giving freedom to innovate, availing the necessary resources for creating new ideas and knowledge, giving supervisor motivation, providing diversity in perspectives in groups, and giving organizational support. Hence, organizational culture and structure directly impacts organizational learning (Lapre? and Nembhard, 2014)
  • Organizations have unwritten rules; those invisible forces that define and drive the behavior of people within the organization. The unwritten rules are like an iceberg, the bulk lie below the surface, affecting the teams, shaping workplace culture, creating divisions, and impacting the overall functionality of the organization. The unwritten rules constitute the unconscious accumulation of vested interests, beliefs, history, customs, and deep feelings of the organization. The rules are those that no  body seems to be particularly in control of and cannot be articulated clearly. These rules can have detrimental, favorable, or neutral influences within the organization. There are unwritten rules that will undermine efforts at change and organizational learning because they sway the people, especially managers and decision makers to comply with ‘the way everything has always been done in the organization’. In worst case scenarios, such a mindset creates room for unethical acts by the organization staff, such as creative accounting where company financial statements are falsified to give a false picture; an example is the ENRON case (Schein and Schein, 2016) . In some cases, such rules can deter the creating and development of new knowledge and the desire to deal with ‘elephants in the room’, by for example, overhauling how projects are run to create new knowledge and achieve higher levels of efficiency. Positive unwritten rules such as a culture of ethics, honesty, integrity, and progressiveness can help in the maintenance of coherence and play a crucial role in organizational learning and corporate success. When fixes such as ‘downsizing’ come around, the unwritten rules can play a big role in how staff respond to such changes. For instance, an employee may fail to seek help from their managers in the fear that they may be on the chopping board; such factors hinder organizational learning and can ultimately costs the organization in terms of growth and performance. These unwritten rules define the prevailing culture within an organization because they become habit, and ultimately, the climate of the organization. Culture and climate are interrelated although have different constructs. Beliefs are shaped by perceptions; however, perceptions are also caused by beliefs. The shared perceptions of employees at the workplace (the climate) are shaped and also shape shared beliefs. These become embedded and ultimately influence what the leaders in an organization pay attention to, how they react to crises, how they allocate resources, how deliberate teaching, role modeling, and coaching is done, and how the leaders allocate status and rewards. Further, they influence how leaders recruit staff, promote them, and communicate. These factors, ultimately, will impact on how learning takes place in the organization because they influence behaviors and responses, and shared beliefs and values (Schein, 2015) .
  • Systems thinking refers to a management discipline concerned with understanding of systems through an examination of the interactions and linkages between the components that make up the entirety of the defined system.  Systems can be evaluated on the basis of principles; principles are general rules of behavior and are basic generalizations that are accepted as being true and can be utilized as the basis for conduct and reasoning. Systems approaches are focused on systems of interest of open systems that also consist of interacting, open sub systems that when as a whole, adapt and interact with other systems within an environment. System principles include various terms and constructs and include abstraction, change, boundary, dualism, encapsulation, holism, equifinality, layer hierarchy, interaction, synthesis, and relations. These principles have synergies as well as trade-offs. For the organization, the important principles include purposefulness, composition, connectedness, perspective, and emergence. Purposefulness entails understanding what the why of an organizations’ purpose (Mella, 2014). Composition entails the ability to arrive at the right compromise when there are seemingly many interdependencies and contradicting needs, such as performance versus security. Connectedness pertains to understanding the value and behavior of an organizations purpose and products in the context of the ecosystem it operates in and to comprehend the implications and influences that ecosystem has on the organization and its products. Perspective pertains to the ability to understand that actions aimed at producing a given outcome can actually result in opposite results. Emergence refer to new capabilities that can result from interaction among employees and leaders when solving problems. An organization may be recovering form a product failure and while creating new knowledge on how to deal with such failures, discover an even better way they could have positioned the product fro greater success than initially intended.  

Systems thinking is a significant departure from old methods of decision making in businesses where the system was broken into parts. It entails evaluating all elements in the environment that can affect the system, in whole or part, using resources as inputs and transforming the resources into beneficial output. Systems thinking provides people with a way in which to approach persistent and complex problems and challenges more effectively. Whenever there are complex problems in an organization, the response has always been to take take actions that are short sighted to fix the problems quickly; but these often lead to adverse, unintended actions and effects that can also be devastating. Systems thinking enables organizations to shift the role of problem solving from leaders and managers alone to tap into the entire employee intelligence pool of the organization.  Systems thinking is thus a tool that can be used effectively by an organization to manage change and foster organizational learning and enable creative ways of handling organizational challenges. Using  systems thinking, new knowledge can be pulled together and help in identifying actions and interventions that are high leverage and implement recommendations that are more powerful. Systems thinking also enables organizations to use systems archetypes so as to illuminate common patterns that are systemic within the workplace.  Systems thinking helps shift how people communicate , think, and act. Through systems thinking, the long and short term dimensions are brought into perspective and enable different questions to be asked and making visible all assumptions; this way, organizations are better capable of tapping into the wisdom and intelligence within the organization and consequently, improve the quality of decision making and organizational performance (Haines, 2000)

References

Berta, W., Cranley, L., Dearing, J., Dogherty, E., Squires, J. and Estabrooks, C. (2015). Why (we think) facilitation works: insights from organizational learning theory. Implementation Science, 10(1).

Chiva, R., Ghauri, P. and Alegre, J. (2013). Organizational Learning, Innovation and Internationalization: A Complex System Model. British Journal of Management, 25(4), pp.687-705. 

Collinson, V. and Cook, T. (2007). Organizational learning. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Easterby-Smith, M., Araujo, L. and Burgoyne, ‎. (1999). Organizational learning and the learning organization: Developments in theory and practice. Lancaster: Management School, Lancaster University.

Haines, S. (2000). The Systems Thinking Approach to Strategic Planning and Management. Hoboken: CRC Press.

King, W. (2009). Knowledge management and organizational learning. Dordrecht: Springer.

Lapre?, M. and Nembhard, I. (2014). Inside the Organizational Learning Curve. Hanover: Now Publishers.

Li, Y., Chen, H., Liu, Y. and Peng, M. (2012). Managerial ties, organizational learning, and opportunity capture: A social capital perspective. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 31(1), pp.271-291.

María Martínez?León, I. and Martínez?García, J. (2011). The influence of organizational structure on organizational learning. International Journal of Manpower, [online] 32(5/6), pp.537-566. Available at:https://www.academia.edu/6157742/The_influence_of_organizational_structure_on_organizational_learning.

Matson, E. and Prusak, L. (2007). Knowledge management and organizational learning. Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press.

Mella, P. (2014). Systems thinking. [Place of publication not identified]: Springer.

Schein, E. and Schein, P. (2016). Organizational culture and leadership. Hobken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Schein, E. (2015). Organizational Psychology Then and Now: Some Observations. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 2(1), pp.1-19.

Tseng, S. and Lee, P. (2014). The effect of knowledge management capability and dynamic capability on organizational performance. Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 27(2), pp.158-179.

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