Systems Learn

When the first five secrets are all put into play, the system can and often does learn, but even in the best systems, continuous learning is not guaranteed. Our starting point is that most organizations do not learn, and those that do, do not sustain their learning. In a study of “long-living” businesses, De Gues (1997) found that most companies failed to reach their fortieth birthday.

A key reason why organizations do not sustain learning is that they focus on individual leaders. As individual leaders come and go, the company engages in episodic ups (if they are lucky) and downs. Khurana’s study (2002) of 850 CEOs in ...

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