Organizational Learning and Change Management in Business

Subject: Organizational Management
Pages: 15
Words: 4368
Reading time:
16 min
Study level: PhD


Peter Senge seems to suggest that knowledge is in reality multi-faceted just like our concepts which are the outcome of other people’s express or indirect pressure. He illustrates organization learning as unique, diverse, comprehensive, and living communities in which individuals share accountability and mutually work. While on the other hand enhancing their competence in order to achieve something that in reality is suitable rather than merely enhancing their learning capability. He weighs organizational change against a tree whose unseen roots takes a considerable period to develop and mature. More so, he compares how the developed roots support the entire tree system with organizational structures which are tied to earnest organizational insight. Equally, he portrays the diverse segments of the tree as the core elements that support organizational change. Too, he goes further to illustrate how organizational change acts as performance drive within organizations.

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Senge asserts that for organizational change to be understood, the value of structures as distribution of power, and change as struggle for handling and reallocation of power must be examined systematically and critically.

That is why in “The Fifth Discipline” Senge (2006) states that work ought to be ever “meaningful” within all organizational ranks. It should be noted that this is necesititated by the mounting complexity and dynamism within the organizational structures globally. That is why organizations change need to be aligned consistently with the individuals greater ambitions. More so, organizational prosperity has also changed the perspective of labor as plain means of an end with countless inherent benefits.

Equally, Whitney and Trosten-Bloom (2010) in their work Power of Appreciative Inquiry argues that the suitable organizational approach must focus on how to; engage people in discussions, analysis, studies, as well as building upon what is functional, rather than on attempts to fix what is not functional. Whitney and Trosten-Bloom approach basically focuses on what is being done including the unrealized strongholds. This does not mean that their approach is developed to ignore the recognition of that which wrong. Basically, the approach relies on the affirmative focus in finding and establishing upbeat processes that can effect organizational change (Cobb, 2004). Also, in regard to the aspects of organizational change and management the approach operates from articulated procedures and principles, which add up to form philosophy of organizational change through organizational learning.

Examining the dynamics of organizational change, numerous authors have significantly explored and advocated for the enhancement of techniques that can provide vivid and exclusive guide to the organizational principles. Therefore, revolving around the arc of development as well as change they tend to examine the depths of organizational structures critically (Van Maurik, 2004; Ghoshal, 2005).

In regard to sustaining organizational change Senge argues that learning and leadership needs an approach that is creative and empowering. This is seen to be paramount in that it encourages organizational high performance and quality service provision. Therefore, Senge’s approach on organizational change is linked to both organizational and personal learning. This includes stressing on the significance of attaining the utmost levels of personal and organizational performance. However, Senge, Whitney and Trosten-Bloom agree that organizational change is effective where learning is unrestricted. Therefore, by allowing organization employees to tap in their individual creativity, the outcomes are consequential and paramount to the organizations objectives.

With fundamental standards and insights, organizational change can be the configuration, or stamina that generates success. This illustrates that the organizational approaches being examined agrees that to formulate effective organizational change, the employees must be empowered.

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Senge (2006) argues that learning organizations are in essence organizations where individuals persistently expand their ability to create the results they critically desire. Where, novel and liberal models of thinking are fostered, where collective objectives are set free. And where individuals are constantly learning to bring the whole together.

Whether the aspects of organizational change are linked transformative change or incremental change, the objectives of the organization differs. Therefore, no matter the focus of the organizational change, there are four key levels that are dissimilar across all aspects of organizational change or management change. They are;

  • Shaping in addition to foreseeing the future.
  • Defining the nature of the organizations business including the major competencies
  • Re-engineering procedure
  • Incrementally enhancing organizational change procedures

Therefore, unlike what Whitney and Trosten-Bloom advances in their appreciative inquiry approach. It ought to be noted that their assumptions are developed on the platform of inquiry strategy. This is predominantly effective in exploring the scope of organization change from both simple and advanced levels. They introduce the concept of Appreciative Inquiry as method in which organizational change is modeled in a unique enhancement. This model is regarded as 4D cycle: Discovery, Design, Dream, and Destiny. It illustrates their approaches and concepts of AI are different from what Senge perceives to be the best organizational change concepts. AI as an organizational development system attempts to engage all levels of an organization in its growth, enhancement, change as well as better performance. Al’s approach is essential and thrives well in organizations involved in rapid changes. However, in contrast to what Senge advocates in his approach in Fifth Discipline. Senge perceives organizational change as a product of gradual development through learning.

Therefore, the emerging differences advocated by the authors in regard to the contemporary approaches to organizational change lies in the method of application. Perhaps that is why in Fifth Discipline Senge explores such organizational aspects as shared vision, systems thinking, mental models as well as team learning which are essential to organizational change. Another notable difference pertains to the manner in which these organizational change approaches are employed. For instance, Senge seems to suggest that change in an organizational set up is gradual where errors are rectified through learning. Therefore, in such a situation it would be imperative to assert that AI moves away from the concepts of problems to the domain of desired futures (Wilber, 2005). This demonstrates that instead of breaking the organizational problems, it attempts to determine the nature that very scheme desires or aspires to. Thus, in regard to both AI and the Fifth Discipline the explored approaches diverts from the traditional problem solving patterns. That is why organizational change in addition to management has taken a new shape. Considering the existing disparities between the contemporary approaches to organizational change, AI has proved to be an effective tool compared to the principles explored by Senge in his book the Fifth Discipline.

Therefore, examining the principles advocated by Whitney and Trosten-Bloom, Senge seems to have based in his argument in the way organizational change is better employed in dealing with problems without categorically defining the apposite solution. This indicates why the said approaches differ in both design and implementation. Hence, Senge asserts “People with a high level of personal mastery live in a continual learning mode. They never ‘arrive’. Sometimes, language, such as the term ‘personal mastery’ creates a misleading sense of definiteness, of black and white. But personal mastery is not something you possess. It is a process. It is a lifelong discipline. People with a high level of personal mastery are acutely aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, their growth areas” (2006).


The contemporary approaches to organizational change as explored by Senge in Fifth discipline and Whitney and Trosten-Bloom in appreciative inquiry have intricate commonalities. The organizational changes addressed relates to structural, strategic, process and people changes. The principal aspects of these commonalities in the organizational approaches to change are linked to the assumptions that everything ought to be approached systematically. More so, the authors share the view that they must be comprehended by analyzing the systems either in whole or in separate individual but separate segments. However, these stances have over the time been established to be restrictive in seeking long-time solutions in regard to organizational change. Looking at the principal dynamics tied to the organizational change, the apparent commonalities illustrates that; we ought to specify, clarify, and deepen individual vision, energies, while developing patience and equally perceive actuality objectively.

Hence, despite their differences the explored approaches do similarly sustain levels of improvement while retaining competitive ties. These ties are either implemented through organization-wide against subsystem change. While in some instance organizational change is associated with transformational change versus incremental change. Too, they have illustrated how they counter peripheral pressures; attain the comprehension to successfully measure resources to client requirement and wants. More so, in enhancing the eminence of their product, including advancing their corporate reflection by opting to be consciously people oriented. This augments the velocity of transformation in the organization. These gains are very significant for the organizations which are being run in competitive trade environments. The objectives of these contemporary organizational changes are to provide the accurate direction to enhance business organizations.

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The concept of investing in employee’s individual change through training, education as well as other chances for continuous growth and development is equally embraced in the scope of organizational change. In addition to this, the sanctioning of organization employees is instrumental in advancing the aspects of organizational change. The authors have illustrated that in both instances, empowering employees creates the desired motivational impact. And this helps the organizations to attain the goals anticipated. Therefore, this indicates for both approaches to be effective, organizations have to share their mutual vision or objective, in its culture, that centers on the significance of learning, and also integrates a dedication to shared learning (Marquardt, 2005).

In essence, these similarities illustrates that shared vision is paramount to organizational change for they provide the energy as well as focus for learning. Therefore, to institute the formulation of a shared vision, both approaches have shown organizations must exploit the individual objectives of its followers. This objective or vision must be created via communication with the persons in the organization, and each and every one must opt to partake. Thus, if the shared vision is developed the oomph for transformation emerges from what Senge terms as creative tension. And this is an essential determinant that interconnects these organizational change approaches together. Exploring the dynamics of AI it is apparent that this scope share similar aspects as the Fifth Disciplines, Both agrees that the intention of wanting to know where we are and where we desire to be is necessitated by organizational change which is fueled by learning.

By formulating a shared vision that sustains organizational change, an organization is generating a shared perception for future potential. And in turn, creates a tradition that encourages citizens to apply their verdict and initiative in recreation of organizational goals. This stance is considerably etched in both contemporary organizational approaches explored in Fifth Discipline and in AI. That’s why Stacey (2007) asserts that organization change is enhanced through interactive engagements in an organization. Hence, he identifies definite commonalities that both approaches of organizational change employ in enhancing their identity.


Diverse scholars have explored the subject of organizational change in dissimilar context. There are those who perceive AI to be the most effective while there are those view the theories explained in Fifth Discipline to be the most apposite. Organizational changes are paramount to organizational learning. Therefore, examining the diverse approaches to change, the most apposite would involve the exploitation of dynamic models of human interaction. In addition to interconnection which can be evaluated from diverse perspectives that are critical in influencing the organizational perception including the nature of the choices to be embraced. For instance, there are instances where organizational changes are examined from the scope of system thinking or alternatively linear responsive procedures, internal or external approach. Commonly this may entail diverse ontological aspects as well as different approaches of handling contradictions. It is well demonstrated by what Stacey (2007) portrays as realism, idealism, social constructionism, relativism and constructionism being just how individuals and organizations create changes in within. And more so establishing which measures are more apposite than the other due to the diverse organizational perspectives pertaining to change.

Certainly there is no single approach that has been declared as the most suitable element for organizational change. The illustrations presented in Senge’s Fifth Discipline significantly differ from what Whitney and Trosten-Bloom advocates. This leaves the debate on organizational change edged between their observations. However, a number of studies have established that the manner organizations reflect on causality that is, linear and unidirectional, circular or non-linear, or equally the paradox which entails polarization, duality, dilemma and self-contradiction is in change is complex. Therefore, this raises a substantial argument on the best conditions on which the suitable organizational learning approach to change would flourish. Exploring the intricate checks and balances regarding AI it emerges that the scope of understanding organizational thinking is imperative in establishing the apposite assumptions in regard to organizational change. That’s is why Senge (2007) explores the profound measure of employing strategy as a tool of fuelling organizational change in the line of thinking about organizational learning and approach to change. In the same principle Berends and v.d. Elst (2008) asserts that each organizational strategy to change can be established where time and available resources are exploited as an act of learning. Therefore, in such a situation diverse theories and assumptions are employed to reflect on the suitable measures to be employed. Hence such questions may arise;

  1. How does the hypothesis recognize the environment of human networking and relating?
  2. What hypothesis of human psychology, that is, aspects of perceiving and acting, does each hypothesis presume?
  3. What tactic underlies every hypothesis?
  4. How does each of the hypotheses deal with the absurd nature of the populace of organizations in addition to the organizational assemblage?

From such an observation, organizations are in essence in a way unique systems existing either as organic or mechanic in nature. More so, it would be essential to understand how the organizations advances towards change and learning in order to develop a systematic thinking approach. Thus, reflecting on the conditions on which these organizational approaches to change can be effective, it would paramount to examine the scope of organizational approach to changes. Considerable organizational changes take place, for instance, when an organization opts to change its entire strategy or policies for attaining the anticipated objectives. Also when an organization endeavors to either add or extract a principal component or practice, or eventually opts to undergo total change. Such instances may in one way or the other act as the ground by which the discussed organizational approach to change may be develop to be effective.

This is can be correlated to the fact that organizations have a propensity to orbit within an overt or various but exceptional life cycles, just like entities, they must productively develop and grow from recognized life cycles. Therefore, the best conditions must be established through instigating seamless changes in the organizational approach to learning. Also, these changes must be effected in the various ranks of organizational development. Thus, the manner organizations embraces these concepts determines which approach will be successful or not. This calls for conceptualization of organizational learning which would be effective. It should be noted that the unique conditions on which these organizational changes may deem effective must satisfy the conjecture that learning is priceless, and is effective if persistently shared. This in essence provides a solid ground for learning. Therefore, the most suitable environment must embrace features which will (Schiller, et al, 2004):

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  • Provide incessant learning prospects.
  • Utilize learning to achieve their objectives.
  • Link personal act with executive performance.
  • Foster inquisition and discourse, making it secure for public to share explicitly as well as take risks.
  • Clinch creative pressure as a resource of energy and restitution.
  • Are ad infinitum conscious of and interrelate with their surroundings.

Therefore, organizational change should not be approached and effected for the sake of having organizational change. As illustrated above the contemporary approaches to organizational change can only thrive where there are laid principles of learning and sharing. This is equally voiced by Senge (2006) in his work. In regard to the aspects of AI in relation to organizational change and organizational learning, the suitable condition applies the same concepts (Senge, 2008). More so, these changes must be designed to enhance the organizational performance including the individuals within these organizations (Whitney, et al, 2003). The basic rationale behind such an observation pertains to the fact that changes are for organizations effectiveness. Despite the organizational approach to changes, organizational learning remains the most dominant factor in establishing the apposite change. This can be linked to the fact that the discussed approaches to organizational changes do in some instances present challenges in execution or implementation.

And this demonstrates why systematic thinking is paramount in resolving the conflicting interests within the two aspects. This indicates how definite aspects of realist, relativist, and dualism plays integral role in establishing organizational changes.

In essence this calls for knowledge which is essential in determining the apposite approaches as well as the effective and continuous learning procedures. Therefore, through explicit interaction the organizational changes can be effected through seamless organizational learning. And indications from such an analysis the best approach to organizational change must entail or satisfy particular aspects of organizational dynamics in regard to development, or management.


Exploring the diverse features explored in Fifth Discipline it becomes apparent that the changing dynamics of organizational changes goes beyond dealing with emerging organizational challenges. Examining the environment by which the approach examined by Senge thrive, it is imperative to argue that it is are not suitable for a small business. And as what Whitney and Trosten-Bloom have illustrated in their argument regarding AI, this organizational methodology which has advanced organizational changes seems to be the most apposite. The reason AI has emerged as the most preferred approach is linked to the fact that it captures the intricate features of the organizations positively. Hence, it allows the environment to facilitate the development and growth of small businesses which are not fully developed.

This has been cited as a key feature of empowering individuals as well as small business organizations both socially and economically, despite energizing their focus on organizational dynamics such as learning, performance strategies as well as organizational thinking (Whitney, et al, 2004).

From organizational approach AI has been declared to be the power that helps small businesses to tap into organizational learning in order to effect organizational change. This is linked to the hypothesis that it compels organizations as well as individuals to pay more attention to the mounting supply of what they desire and anticipate achieving instead of confronting problems through the traditional problem solving approaches.

Contrary to believes projected by Senge in his writings the Fifth Discipline. Senge argues from the scope of practices designed to build learning aptitudes in organizations. Drawing from region of organizational learning, governance design, process consultation systematic dynamics, and scenario planning he presents a complex organizational change structure. That’s why AI is seen as a system of thinking involving working with groups, communities, and organizations that embrace the notion every human scheme have at least explicit positive features. This illustrates that by reflecting on the schemes strengths as well as the best practices including sharing of aspects of achievement, individuals or organizations can change their perceptions of the circumstances from being problem oriented to being resource oriented (Whitney,et al,2010).

AI makes organizational change to envision and anticipate a condition where success becomes the norm. This is demonstrated by the manner organizations handles peak performance. Also AI allows organization to develop within familiar conditions which promulgates growth and this is critical in sustaining a performance oriented surroundings. Equally, AI supports organizational change in that it helps them to drift away from problems and focus on opportunities. Therefore, in this aspect it has been established organizations that endeavors to realize that approach are more resourceful and highly motivated to embrace change (Garvey, et al, 2004).

Exploring the dynamics of organizational change as explained in Fifth Discipline, Senge portrays a complex organizational structure that is not completely workable in common organizational setting. His argument on “System thinking” can not be executed within grass root levels. And that is why AI as a component of organizational learning is more unique, workable and efficient in sustaining organizational change. He asserts;

“Without a language for dealing with complexity, learning is limited. If one member of a team sees a problem more systematically than others, that person’s insights will get reliably discounted – if for no other reason than the intrinsic biases toward linear views in our normal everyday language” (2006).

From the five disciplines explored by Senge we see the unique approaches which involve theories as well as methods designed to enhance the nucleus of learning capabilities: comprehending complexity, enhancing insightful conversations as well as fostering aspiration in organizations (Bushe, 2006). Unlike in the approach advocated in AI, the fifth discipline seems to suggest that the current organizational problems could be as a result of yesterday’s organizational solutions. Also, the approaches are allied to the supposition that cause plus effect are not interrelated either in instance or space. However, this tendency makes the assumptions to fail in the common organizational settings. Consider that organizations develops due to gradual and integrated learning conditions, where individuals in this organizations are allowed to be the part of the solution and this increases performance and more so helps in facilitating change.

In reality, change is inevitable in life, particularly in the organizational domain. There are countless internal as well as external change aspects on an organization. These may comprise but not restricted to, competition, expertise, location, government/politics, and innovative management among others (Ricchiuto, 2005). Therefore, assisting individuals to handle these explicit organizational changes is essential to the success of both individuals and organizations. Basically, organizational management must ascertain change does not humiliate or frustrate their employees, and see to it that they assist them deal with change positively. By taking change for their own advantage, organizations do realize change is not difficult where organizational culture is flexible, has reliable communication procedures and is in essence optimistic (Thatchenkery, et al, 2006).

And one of the humanistic aspects of approaching organizational change has been AI. According to Whitney and Trosten-Bloom (2003) AI is a means to make certain change is perceived as an augmentation and the organization progresses by focusing the interest at its people. Therefore, in both approaches to organizational change, organizational learning is seen to be the fundamental vehicle by which organizations can embrace change. Thus management in any organization must focus on fully executing parameters that would facilitate change, promote team work as well as satisfy its clients. This can only be achieved through systematic approach. And this approach is linked to the scope of AI.


The reason organizational change fails in regard to theories and methods advocated by Senge in Fifth Discipline are directly linked to strategy. It ought to be noted that organizational change can not occur without well established strategies. Fundamentally, organizational learning opens the door for integration however without effective strategies it cannot be effectual. This is the reason that most organizations implementing the steps explored by Whitney and Trosten-Bloom (2003) considers the well being of the organization both in short term and long term scope in enhancing their performance. In essence, organizational change must be accompanied by planned, explicit and structured guidelines. Also identifying current goals as well as exploiting the scope of action planning brings about organizational change (Leadbeater, 2007).

Exploring the differences and commonalities of the diverse organizational learning in regard to organizational change, I tends to correlate to the innate organizational features which the dynamics explained in Fifth Discipline fails to tackle. And this is compactly tied to the scope of organizational strategies. Understanding that organizations have an external dialogue commonly made up of information either gathered or harvested through exchange, basically in on-job narratives typically this information is employed to effect change in an organization. This happens for “organizations move toward what they study” (Whitney, et al, 2003).


Considering the diversity and complexity presented by the discussed organizational approach to change, it would be pivotal to note that the suitable approach satisfies some basic organizational aspects. Contrasting the Fifth Discipline with the Appreciative Inquiry, it becomes apparent that one approach is more superior to the other. This is correlated to the conditions on which each approach thrives; hence, AI is seen as the choice of those organizations which have a choice to focus on what they study. While, the Fifth Discipline seem to be etched on the approaches that deals with organizational mechanisms (Dibella, 2006; Hammond, 2004). Therefore, organizational learning provides the apposite organizational change where the individuals in the organization are given a room to grow. It is essential to note that the complexity of Fifth Discipline cannot allow it to facilitate the fundamental change in organizational flexible structures. From established sources, it has been cited to be the most effective model for effecting organizational change. It is through the manner it is executed through learning that organizational inputs are realized and eventually an organization grows stronger.

Therefore, organizational change should be embraced in regard to the specific requirements of each organization. It should be noted that organizational change is well instituted where the dynamics of learning are interrelated with performance. Thus, by employing the most suitable approach, the conditions for change must be equally balanced. From the manner the diverse studies have established organizational change must be linked to the aspects of the organizations from the lowest level to the advanced status. And this shows why most organizations tend to lean towards their destiny in regard to performance and client maintenance. Bushe (2006) asserts that organizational change reflects the leadership styles employed. More so, he notes that satisfactory changes must be from within. Drawing that argument we can establish that the simpler the organizational is, so is the organizational change likely to be realized. It would be instrumental to argue that the advocacy for AI as the most apposite approach to organizational change is satisfactory. Looking at the conditions and requirements of organizational change, AI is more favored due to the fact that it relates to the very basic aspects of organizational structure. Therefore, this illustrates why the Fifth Discipline fails to be embraced in executing organizational change due to its complexity.


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