Organizational Learning and Educational Leadership

Discuss about the Organizational Learning and Educational Leadership.

Learning is the process by which new information is acquired, processed, synthesized, and imbibed within oneself. There are three major domains of learning – Cognitive learning, which deals with problem solving, calculating, recalling past memory, etc; Affective leaning, which deals with emotional expressiveness; and Psychomotor learning, which deals with learning the activities performed in daily life such as walking, running, swimming, driving, etc. (Boud, Keogh, & Walker, 2013) Learning is not a one-time process, but rather is a lifelong process which is reinforced upon previous knowledge. Proper utilization of one’s learning inculcates wisdom, a trait which is held in high regard. Wisdom is the ability to analyze and act, using appropriate knowledge, experience and empathy. In an ideal situation, education must lead towards a person becoming wise, rather than learned. Wisdom helps a person hone leadership skills, which enables a person to lead and guide other people into achieving a task.

The wisdom of leadership implements critical thinking, emotional thinking, perception, and the common sense of what to do and not in a given situation. Organizational learning is creating and synthesizing information specific to a particular area, and its application in an organization. It is quantitatively analyzed by the learning curve – a graph plotted the learning experience gained against the time taken (Carothers, 2011). Organizational learning applies the use of common sense, by utilizing the knowledge that is needed at that hour, than what exists in totality. This essay deals with the application of the theories of organizational learning in Educational leadership, by elucidating on the traits of William Henry Gates III, who is a role model for many people in the world today.

Educational Leadership and Learning

Leadership is a trait or a responsibility, where in an individual exerts a social influence on a group of likeminded individuals working towards a similar goal. Leadership in education is a humane responsibility, working towards the development of a brighter future. Educational leadership is the process of identifying, creating opportunities, and guiding all the stakeholders of education. Basically it involves putting the right person with the right talent into the right place (Hargreaves & Fink, 2004). However, it is not as passive process, it involves the leaders to know what they intend to do, to experience it, and to demonstrate it, in order to achieve success. There are two main tasks involved in educational leadership – to revamp the old system, to create a new system, and to periodically review and update the system. This can be explained by quoting the book of Carr & Fulmer (2004), that Educational leadership is “Knowing the way, Showing the way, and Going the way”. By applying effective leadership skills, any issues that are present within the existing system can be resolved and new components cn be formulated by filling the gaps or by expanding the system.

Applying organizational learning to the field of education is an effective way to accomplish paradigm shifts in the field. It can be implemented to learn about the education system and analyze its issues using organizational skills. For example, for the task of expanding one’s knowledge, ideas that are alternatives to recruiting and retaining staff can be employed, i.e. using knowledge repositories, effectively utilizing technology, and implementing effective teaching methodologies so that the information that is being taught stays with the learner at an application level. Upon exploring each of the above mentioned three components, we can connect it with the theories of organizational learning. Five theories – Engeströms’ theory, Daft and Weick’s theory, Argyris/Schön’s theory, March & Oslen’s theory, and Nonaka/Takeuchi’s theory are taken, and an attempt is made to identify a pattern among the variables (Göhlich, 2016). The three major domains of learning – the cognitive, the affective, the psychomotor domains are correlated to each theory.

Knowing the Way – This component of Educational leadership focuses on the leader being thoroughly aware and cognizant of the path which he leads. It includes the complexities, the catches and the complications that would be encountered. This can be explained by Engeströms’ theory of Organizational learning, where it is theorized that the learning is a dynamic activity system, and has a system within the system (Jonassen & Land, 2012). Here, learning focuses on the subject, object and the community as a triangular system, which internally contains rules, instruments and division of labour as the deeper system. A leader must know the co-configuration of the systems, in order to know its effective working. For example, to perform a certain task, the student (the subject) must be well aware of the instructions (rules), the tools used to perform a task (instruments), and teamwork in the task (division of labour). Another theory to support the approach is Daft and Weick’s theory, which is implemented to achieve feedback in the loop, by scanning, which means to collect information; interpreting, which means to understand the information collected; and learning, which means to practically apply the understood information to the task (Gunter, 2009).

Knowing the way is very important, as it is important to know the in and out of the task before progressing to do it, and to lead a team into doing it.

Showing the Way – This component of Educational leadership focuses on the leader demonstrating the ways the task can be performed. This can be feasible only if the leader “knows” the way initially, and is competent to face the challenge alone. The organizational theory by Argyris/Schön proposes that the learning is individual centric, and that every person works individually first, and collaboratively next (Blackmore, 2007). It states that organizational learning occurs when individuals within an organization experience a problematic situation and inquire it on the organization‘s behalf. This way, it is possible to differentiate between the latent and the explicit beliefs, between a knowledge that is private and public, making it possible to identify the potential barriers in a particular task, and to address them before embarking on a group attempt. Showing the way is important to any project as it is similar to a pilot project, where in the leader can assess the situation, and address it for the smooth progression of the teamwork

Going the Way – This component of Educational leadership focuses on the leader performing the task along with the team, assuming leadership charges whenever necessitated. If the leader has completed the first two components, it would be easy for him to identify any potential issues, alert the team on any steps to be taken, and apply the knowledge of his prior experiences in it. However, learning is a dynamic process, and any task undertaken along with the team would give rise to newer perspectives and newer solutions to any issues. This component agrees with the theory of March & Oslen, which states that Organizational learning is a continuing process, and that learning is an incomplete circle (March & Olsen, 2010). This theory focuses on the cognitive and the psychomotor components of learning. However, this theory does not address the affective component. This lacuna can be filled by Nonaka/Takeuchi’s spiral theory of organizational learning, where in the knowledge transfer at an affective level is also discussed (McLean, 2004). According to the theory, Organizational learning can be defined as “the capability of a company as a whole to create new knowledge; disseminate it throughout the organization, and embody it in products, services and systems”

Going the way is of a statistical significance, as it is the final implementation of the task, with the leader alongside the team and not in front of it.

Innovation is viewed as the conception of a new idea or methodology. It is also the implementation of different solutions for a recurrent issue, by utilizing the principles of lean and effective management. The concepts of organizational learning and educational leadership can be integrated, in the innovation of a new idea, which could also be a path-breaker of its times (Bakkenes, Vermunt, & Wubbels, 2010). For example, when the personal computers had taken baby steps in technology, William Henry Gates III, popularly known as Bill Gates, changed its course of development by founding the world’s largest PC software company.  What made him successful, and how did the implementation of the principles of educational leadership help his venture shall be discussed in a brief tale about him.

Bill Gates – The Micro-Giant.

William Henry Gates III is America’s leading entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the co-founder of Microsoft – the world’s largest software company for personal computers. In his first entrepreneurship as a student, Bill Gates wrote his first program on a machine in his college days, which was an improvisation of “tic-tac-toe”, to be played between the user and the computer. He slowly began to detect bugs in the softwares, later proceeded to design a traffic counter for the then Intel processor. He devised the world’s fastest algorithm for an unsolved problem, using pancake sorting; a record which was broken thirty years later. Upon the release of the upgraded Intel processor, Gates, along with his friend Paul Allen, decided to start a venture on their own, and in 1975, they started the Micro-Soft. It ran the first interpreter for the computer language BASIC. Microsoft went on to launch Windows in 1985, and from then on never looked back (Wallace & Erickson, 1993). After nearly 28 years in Microsoft, Gates resigned from his post, and today works as technology advisor to the present CEO.

Looking back into Gates’ story, we can see that he has implemented all the traits of leadership and organizational learning. His college and university days and his initial days at   Microsoft was a platform for Gates to “know the way”, as this was the period he had amassed knowledge by learning, doing, and experimenting on various programs. This way, he was able to understand the system of computer programming, and the subsystems within. When he started his company, he was able to “show the way” by “going the way”. This way, he could come up with newer innovations of Windows every time, and fix the bugs in every version, thereby bringing about a new advanced version each time. By taking up the position as the technology advisor to the present CEO, Gates “shows” the way by his previous experiences and insights.

The effective implementation of leadership strategies and organizational learning theories by Bill Gates has led to the entire world’s progression in technology, by working along with the system.

Conclusion

Organizational learning and educational leadership go hand in hand in the development of the education system. All recognized theories of organizational learning revolve around a similar framework, and point in the same direction of utilizing one’s wisdom while applying one’s knowledge in taking decisions with respect to the organization. Utilization of the knowledge leads to connecting the dots in the system, and bringing forth new ideas and innovations. The concept of taking up one idea at a time, applying all the components of organizational learning and educational leadership, and implementing it in an effective method would lead to an easy progress in any organization. Leaders, who work alongside the team, implementing wisdom in their activities and innovations, would definitely change the course of the world’s progress into progression.

References 

Bakkenes, I., Vermunt, J., & Wubbels, T. (2010). Teacher learning in the context of educational innovation: Learning activities and learning outcomes of experienced teachers. Learning and instruction , 20 (6), 533-548.

Blackmore, C. (2007). What kinds of knowledge, knowing and learning are required for addressing resource dilemmas?: a theoretical overview. Environmental Science & Policy , 10 (6), 512-525.

Boud, D., Keogh, R., & Walker, D. (2013). Reflection: Turning experience into learning. Routledge.

Carothers, T. (2011). Aiding democracy abroad: The learning curve. Endowment.

Carr, C. S., & Fulmer, C. L. (2004). Educational Leadership: Knowing the Way, Showing the Way, Going the Way. R&L Education.

Göhlich, M. (2016). Theories of Organizational Learning as resources of Organizational Education. In A. Schröer (Ed.), Organisation and Theory, Organisation and Practical. Springer.

Gunter, H. (2009). Critical approaches to leadership in education. The Journal of Educational Enquiry , 2 (2).

Hargreaves, A., & Fink, D. (2004). The seven principles of sustainable leadership. Educational leadership , 61 (7), 8-13.

Jonassen, D., & Land, S. (Eds.). (2012). Theoretical foundations of learning environments. Routledge.

March, J., & Olsen, J. (2010). Rediscovering institutions. Simon and Schuster.

McLean, L. D. (2004). A Review and Critique of Nonaka and Takeuchi’s Theory of Organizational Knowledge Creation. University of Minnesota.

Wallace, J., & Erickson, J. (1993). Hard drive: Bill Gates and the making of the Microsoft empire. Harper Business.

 

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