Well I have been asked to comment on the global financial crisis and whilst I think I could point to any number of reasons and point people to an amazing number of resources that explain why... I would rather confine my comments to a narrow but equally important view.
I have spoken about the importance of unlearning and whilst I think this will ultimately reveal a lot of reasons for organisational failure, I am still left to ruminate over the lack of organisations to embrace the concept of "The Learning Organisation".
Essential to this is to re-visit Senge's definition of a learning organisation:
"organisations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together."
If we were to examine a number of the organisations that have failed in this crisis it would be worthwhile to audit them in terms of their commitment to being a learning organisation.
Despite the copious amount of examples that have attracted major criticism in corporate history, these organisations were never engaged in a continuous and productive learning environment that supported a diversity in knowledge and experience. It would appear on the surface that there was too many of the same "type" of individuals and the same "types" of strategy.
This brings me back to Senge. For Peter Senge, real learning gets to the heart of what it is to be human. We become able to re-create ourselves. This applies to both individuals and organisations. Thus, for a ‘learning organisation it is not enough to survive. ‘”Survival learning” or what is more often termed “adaptive learning” is important – indeed it is necessary. But for a learning organisation, “adaptive learning” must be joined by “generative learning”, learning that enhances our capacity to create’ (Senge 1990:14).
One wonders whether our corporate leaders will heed the warning that this crisis deals out and start to truly invest in creating truly "thriving" learning organisations that are adaptive, generative and "unlearning" all that is not needed.
Now there is something to ponder.......