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The dilemma of organizational myopia: discovering the learning disability #4

Taking a closer look at the learning difficulties identified by Peter Senge in “The Fifth Discipline”, we come across “The Fixation on Events”. This disorder highlights an organization’s tendency to focus on isolated incidents and immediate concerns, rather than understanding underlying trends and systemic issues.

Understanding disability

The “Fixation on Event” occurs when organizations react only to individual events, without analyzing the underlying patterns or systemic structures that lead to these events. This short-term focus prevents the development of long-term solutions and a deeper understanding of the organizational dynamics at play.

Recognizing disability

Recognition of this disability is visible through :

  • Reactive measures: An organizational tendency to react to individual events rather than proactively tackle systemic problems.
  • Lack of long-term planning: Significant lack of strategic planning beyond immediate concerns.
  • Ignorance of underlying patterns: Ignorance of the identification and understanding of patterns that lead to recurring problems.

Why does this handicap exist?

Several factors contribute to the prevalence of this disability:

  • Pressure for immediate results: The pressure to deliver fast results can lead to a focus on immediate problems rather than on understanding and resolving the underlying issues.
  • Lack of awareness: There may be a lack of awareness or understanding of the systemic nature of the challenges facing the organization.
  • Insufficient analytical skills: Organizations may lack the analytical tools or skills needed to identify and understand underlying patterns.

Mitigating disability

Mitigating this handicap requires the adoption of two disciplines fundamental to learning organizations:

  • Systems thinking: Adopting a systems approach helps to identify and understand the underlying structures and patterns at the root of recurring problems, fostering a more holistic perspective.
  • Mental models: Challenging existing mental models and promoting open dialogue can help shift attention from individual events to underlying systemic issues, thus fostering a long-term strategic perspective.

To move towards a learning organization, it is essential to put an end to “the fixation on events” and foster a culture of long-term planning and systems thinking. Our series will continue to explore other learning disabilities, illuminating the path to learning and organizational growth.

Stay tuned for our next article on learning disabilities, and be sure to attend the keynote address at the Pyxis Learning Organization Conference at the Montreal Agile Tour in November. Your journey towards creating a learning organization is enriched by understanding and addressing these fundamental disabilities.