From “the learning organization” to “the learning nation”


Summary: Both our organizations and our societies need continuous learning to survive in our accelerated knowledge-based, information based and innovation-based economies. These economies are highly technical, highly science-based and high-education based. This combined with the shifting of labor from manufacturing to the new economies has led to the accelerated and rising need for total population education. [end summary]

Today we widely recognize how our entire organizations need to become “learning organizations.” We also widely recognize the need for everyone in our organizations to become innovators.

This is a great realization on the organizational level but I propose that this need is actually greater than we had previously anticipated. The need to operate within a total population of individuals that are continuously learning is also a macro-system need at all the levels of all our systems:

  • national level
  • global level

To insure this organizational and nation-level transformation we need total population education

The commoditization of undergraduate knowledge
Undergraduate education in some instances has become as valuable as high-school education. As businesses are demanding a workforce with higher-education and as Americans find themselves competing with educated global workforces from nations that subsidize their higher level education we find ourselves with a new type of educational need.

A new educational model
Specialized organization and business-centered education is needed to address the highly contextual needs of organizations.

The complimentary multidisciplinary education through the undergratuate level (ideally graduate level), should be the right of all citizens.

Both of these emerging demands are the result from the rising need for specialized organizational knowledge and the new accelerated national need to have a competitive workforce in our accelerated economies.

Both of these educational industries have built-in survival features:

  1. Change. Change leads to the need to re-learn and re-understand the changing dynamics and the changing multi-relationships between entities in our systems.
  2. Context. Different contexts need to be re-considered as system dynamics are often highly dependent on context. Companies need contextual education and learning depend
  3. Perspective. Perspectives, philosophies, different thought models are all seeds for new knowledge and consequently seeds for new needs in education.

The multivalue of the learning nation
This is an opportunity for multi-level value: we can simulatneously:

  • Improve our ability to compete in the accelerated knowledge / information / innovation economy
  • educate our total population
  • lower (some) poverty, unemployment, crime, prison populations, homelessness, needs for war and other social ills that are related to a general lack of education, and in some cases more specifically, the lack of conflict resolution skills and problem-solving skills
  • solve problems in our neighborhoods and communities through the rise of skills,
  • raise our entire country’s (world?) quality of life

The need for our entire popution to enter continuous cycles of education
Knowledge and information is changing quickly and with this quick change we need to accelerate our entire population’s ability to learn and gain valuable knowledge.

There isn’t one solution. We need a group of solutions working together – a contextual solution system – that is incorporated into the entire range of closely related human systems (e.g. work, family, transporation, child-care, personal, nation, state etc)

The priority of needs From our specific national (U.S.) perspective, we have an urgent responsibility to educate people that today work in low-skill, and manufacturing industry jobs. Arguably these folks are our first priority. Leaving them behind under the current economic trend towards globalization may no longer be understood just an unethical act limited to the realm of business but we may also understand it as a bad strategic move from the high-level perspective of national survival.

Rapid education is our biggest national need today. (Depending on how you think about it) tomorrow, our lack of systems-aware, holistic education may be the biggest threat to our personal, national and global survival.


One thought on “From “the learning organization” to “the learning nation”

  1. there was “just-in-time” parts that revolutionised the car-making industry, we are probably in the same position for human knowledge – just in time knowledge.

    Having what you need when you need it.

    Basically education to give us the tools and the processes for being able to seek out the best sources to solve the problems that arise on an hour-to-hour basis.


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