PRELIMINARY FINDINGS: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN A LEARNING ORGANIZATION - Case Study and Causal Diagramming Warren W. Tignor 1. Introduction This study addresses the role information technology plays in a learning organization. In general, a learning organization takes advantage of current and past knowledge to further the goals of the business. Information technology permeates business organizations today as the trend to automate continues to accelerate daily. In many instances, information technology helps businesses do things quicker, better and cheaper; in most cases this results in better profitability. Case study represents a vast source of past business knowledge available to learn from to influence future decisions. Causal diagrams will help the business analyst identify the major influencing factors of the case and the feedback mechanism that impacts the case results. This study presents the hypothesis that the collaborative effect of case study and information technology using causal diagramming in a learning organization will improve the potential of businesses to adapt to new competitive situations. 2. Review of Literature This study surveys the current literature regarding learning organizations and information technology's role with a particular emphasis on case study and causal diagrams defined as System Dynamics information technology. 2.1 LEARNING ORGANIZATIONS According to Dixon (1993) the reason that most organizations are inefficient learners is their lack of systematic processes to facilitate learning. The literature review that follows is organized around the derived distinguishing characteristics based on the following clustered attributes of learning organizations: 1.0 “Total Systems Perspective” 1.1 Inquire into systemic consequences (Koffman & Senge, 1995) 1.2 Acknowledge primacy of whole v. pieces (Koffman & Senge, 1995) 1.3 Facilitate systems perspective (systemic relationships) (Nevis, et al., 1995) 1.4 Systems thinking (exam whole vs. parts) (Senge, 1990) 1.5 Facilitate-scanning imperative (aware of environment) (Nevis, et al., 1995) 1.6 Use nonlinear thinking (Koffman & Senge, 1995) 2.0 “Performance and Practice” 2.1 Detect and correct errors (Argris & Schön, 1978) 2.2 Arise through performance and practice (Koffman & Senge, 1995) 2.3 Facilitate performance-gap (actual v. desired state) (Nevis, et al., 1995) 2.4 Act on knowledge and understanding (Fiol & Lyles, 1985) 3.0 “Servant Leaders” 3.1 Build community of servant leaders (Koffman & Senge, 1995) 3.2 Facilitate-multiple advocates (no one champion) (Nevis, et al., 1995) 3.3 Construct structures and strategies (organization & workforce skills) (Dodgson, 1993) 3.4 Facilitate-involved leaders (engage in vision actions) (Nevis, et al., 1995) 4.0 “Experimental Mindset” 4.1 Use “managerial practice fields” (Koffman & Senge, 1995) 4.2 Facilitate-measurement (strive to quantify) (Nevis, et al., 1995) 4.3 Facilitate-experimental mindset (act like a researcher) (Nevis, et al., 1995) 5.0 “Shared Problem Solving” 5.1 Facilitate-open climate (share problem/error/lesson) (Nevis, et al., 1995) 5.2 Facilitate-education (sense that learning is never over) (Nevis, et al., 1995) 5.3 Team learning (suspend assumptions & think freely) (Senge, 1990) 5.4 Personal Mastery (to be the best possible) (Senge, 1990) 6.0 “Shared Vision” 6.1 Facilitate-operational variety (diversity v. singularity) (Nevis, et al., 1995) 6.2 Build Shared Vision (truly shared picture of the future) (Senge, 1990) 6.3 Mental Models (separate the map from the territory) (Senge, 1990)
2.2 CASE STUDY The case method was used as far back as the 5th century BC, when Socrates taught his students to reason on their own by asking them questions instead of lecturing them. The principle underlying the case method is that it takes more than a simple recitation of facts for students to learn. The concept is that true learning takes place through experience and discovery. New ideas need to be tested,...
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