PRM Phase 3: Organizational Learning

in a highly democratized global economy, organizational learning must be systematic and continuous. Whatever was the state of the art one day becomes stale and dull the next.

Continuous Organization-wide Learning

Although we all know that learning is how we get better, we don’t tend to seek learning in a deliberate manner. However, in a highly democratized global economy, organizational learning must be systematic and continuous. Whatever was the state of the art one day becomes stale and dull the next.

Your competitive edge comes from knowing something of value better than anyone else, knowledge that comes from a systematic pursuit of learning — Measure, Analyze, Adjust, and Document.

 

Step 1: Measure

You cannot improve what you don’t measure — you wouldn’t know what to improve. Measuring itself is a continuous process of answering the fundamental questions: What should you measure and how frequently should you measure? How do you measure? What do you do with the data?

Step 2: Analyze

Analysis of the results collected is what provides you with the information you need to make the right business decision. Should you do more of this, and less of that? Should you cut this activity out completely as it no longer delivers results that justify the cost? Who should you reward, and whom should you let go?

Business decisions should always be informed by data to the extent it is available.

Step 3: Adjust

Organizational learning comes from taking actions informed by data, and then seeing if what is expected happened or not. Each round of do-observe-adjust takes you up a notch to the next level. In this sense, a decision to “leave well enough alone” is a decision not to improve.

In his book, Doing What Matters, Jim Kilts, then CEO of The Gillette Company repeatedly admonishes business managers to have a “continuous dissatisfaction” and drive for ZOG (Zero Overhead Growth) as they increase revenues. Kilts goes even further to say the real goal should be NOG (negative overhead growth)—it should be possible to reduce input costs AND increase output at the same time.

If you agree with Kilts, then all things are perpetually “broken” and should be “fixed”.

Step 4: Document

The final piece to a PRM is documenting everything that works and sharing it across the company through some knowledge base.

By document, we don’t mean one big document that is several hundred pages long and no one reads. Instead, you should try to create many hundreds of one-page documents that are the definitive resource on how to do something very specific. The title should always be a question—“How do I…”

The person who figured out the answer should be the author. This is all about prose, not poetry. Get it down as soon as possible and notify everyone of the new publication so the knowledge reaches as far as possible as quickly as possible. Encourage peer review and comments. Make it rich.

There are two fundamental reasons why this doesn’t happen as often as it should. It is assumed to be the job of someone (training, or tech writer) and not of everyone in the company. And, everyone thinks they are too busy to do it.

Reward and recognition are great incentives to get everyone to participate.