Military in my view is perhaps the greatest learning organization. The motivation of defending their nation is what drives them to be a learning organization. I have served in the Canadian military previously and I will try to relate my knowledge about that organization to Senge's "learning organization." Teamwork is the most important thing in the military and I feel tha the employees that survive from boot camp til they are permanent employees, are the ones that have good teamwork skill. You also have to be loyal, enthusiastic, honest, high morals, ethics, motivated, willingness to follow orders and follow one vision. I won't say, there's no corruption, back stabbing, politics, or any other bad practices that take place in other organizations, but I would say that in my experience, these things have not been as common in the military.
Here's why I think they are a true learning organization:
- They try to be innovative and remain competitive in the world, i.e., US military.
- Responding to problems quickly, i.e. When national security is at stake, military response, if required, is swift.
- They try to keep politics out of the organization. In my experience that has often been true, commradary has been highly encouraged and pushed to the employees.
- The military has been a pioneer in the field of knowledge management, which has been perhaps the key to their successes as an organization.
And here's how I would link the military to the learning organization characteristics from Senge.
Military personnel spend most of their time training
rather than actually performing those tasks in the real world, as a result, they are heavily committed to learning better, more efficient and newer techniques. And repetition is the key to individual learning (i.e., weapons handling, target practicing, etc).
Building Shared Vision:
As with any other organization, the military has a shared vision, which is generally to defend a nation/state. Often, decentralized organizational structure suffer from not having a shared vision organization wide. However, given that the military is a centralized structure, it always has a shared vision from top to bottom.
The best practices within the military are almost always practiced, because lives are at stake. In addition, they strive to be the best at their jobs with the resources available. They spend a lot of their time around their coworkers, which allows for individuals to share their experiences and transfer knowledge amongst each other.
Senge, P. M. (1990) The Fifth Discipline. The art and practice of the learning organization. London: Random House