It was during the end of the ‘90s that a big question emerged and haunted me since then: how can humans change a system (i.e. a big human-made organization)?
I was a medical student doing very good with my studies, as I always did with anything related to books, when at the end of our third year one of our professors decided to talk to us about career choices. She explained that we could chose to specialize in research or in practicing medicine. “In both cases, she said, you as doctors will have to adhere to the polices of the medical system which are put in place by the big pharmaceutical companies”. The whole auditorium of 200 students left that class with depression. I was one of them.
But I wasn’t willing to become a doctor and have to obey the system’s orders. Especially as we are talking about a human made system. Thus I decided to find a way to change the medical system for all these 199 fellow students of mine. I had no idea how someone could possibly change a whole medical system but I was going to find out. It was common knowledge that the management science contemplates systems and their change thus I immediately stopped my medical studies and started studying management.
During my management studies it soon became obvious that the mainstream management practices that were part of a BSc curriculum were already outdated and proven counterproductive and yet no alternative was proposed to the students. That was when I read the book “Leadership and the New Science” by M. Wheatley which talked about the innovation of management i.e. management’s newest approach named Organizational Learning (OL), being researched extensively in MIT. In that book I found out about the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL) which I started following and learning from since then.
There, I found out that yes the theory about changing a system was in place already since Maslow’s Eupsychian Management book and significantly advanced through contemporary scientists like the Chair of SoL himself Peter Senge and yet, nobody knew how to apply this new approach at a large scale. It simply never happened before and all case studies followed a different methodology completely dependent upon the scientist that was leading the organization’s change making it impossible to standardize and scale up.
Ten years of research on finding out a way to apply OL at a large scale later, “Doing More with Less; Organizational Learningand the OLSET tool” summarizes all the findings and tools for anybody to be able to change a system or an organisation - regardless of size, sector, culture or age (startup or no).
In this in-depth overview, theory intersects with practice to prepare leaders to apply OL knowledge in their organisations. The book includes the most current research in operationalizing OL, which I conducted at the University of Liverpool between 2011 and 2012.
The information is laid out in three parts:
- Background knowledge required to skillfully implement OL tools
- Theory and research behind the components of the OL equation
- A customizable OL management system named OLSET that you can apply directly in your organization
The new Organizational Learning Self-Evaluation Tool (OLSET) presented in this book, allows leaders to conduct an OL capacity audit and plan change, ensuring that their businesses have a continuous competitive advantage, regardless of market conditions. OLSET is the answer to my old question since the medical school as it enables humans to change their organisations and systems.
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OLSET Ltd., which provides scientifically based software to help companies of any size to apply organizational learning. She lives in Athens, with her twelve-year-old son. This is her first book.