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The concept of the learning organization is getting more and more popular. Still most enterprises struggle when trying to establish a learning culture. In this braindump I’ll take a look on how “proactivity” prevents us from developing learning organizations.

In his book “The Fifth Element” Peter Senge states that learning organizations continuously increase their ability to invent their own future. Following his thoughts the base for this is real, deep learning. For this kind of learning it is crucial to not not only process information but to go through a fundamental change becoming able to look at situations from a different perspective than before. …


It is widely known that participation of people in organizational change is very important. But even though most have accepted this to be true, involving others in designing change remains a challenge. Consequences became visible to me when our latest reorganization as agile coaches at idealo started. I will share my experiences with you, point out the importance of organizational structures and personal relationships in change processes and build up a hypothesis on how values help to overcome resistance and get yourself into the change process.

The Desire for Involvement — Our Story

The process we have gone through has not been easy. The “head-of-group” decided to install a new organizational structure called clusters. A cluster consists of multiple product areas, i.e. units that own responsibility for a part of the user journey. Clusters are supposed to strengthen communication between product areas working on the same user journey. Once the idea was born they also started thinking about how the agile coaches can be allocated to the clusters — especially as agile coaching capacity is limited and some units did not get any support in the past. Ideas went down to a personal level. Single coaches were mapped to clusters. Initially the agile coaches took not part in these discussions. Some thoughts were shared by the leads of the agile coaches, i.e. communication was indirect and uni-directional. The agile coaches did not feel involved (though nobody explicitly excluded them from the discussion). There was a lack of empowerment to participate in designing the change. Resistance and negative emotions emerged within the agile coach team. Effort had to be made before we were able to move on and add value to the change process. …


Self-organization is one of the big buzzwords lately. People are having passionate discussion about wether or not self-organization should be implemented in their company. Some like the idea of increasing teams’ autonomy whilst others are convinced that self-organization is harmful and teams have to be managed in a more traditional way. But one thing is overseen frequently: you do not have that choice!

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Let’s start by understanding what the term actually means:

“Self-organization describes how social systems naturally build and sustain structures and practices through autonomous interactions and processes. “ (translated from now-new-next.ch)

Now what does that imply? Even though science is still discussing if self-organization automatically is part of every social system, odds are that it is in your environment. There are many examples most of us know. Remember the last time your management team (you may exchange this by taskforce, workgroup, …) was working on that confidential topic? They really tried to make sure that no information would be passed to others before they decided to do so. When they finally presented their results, almost everyone knew about their work already. Information was passed through office grapewine and there was no way to prevent that. …