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Learning Organisations: A Solution To Active Disengagement?

Chris White identified the idea of actively disengaging from your working environment in his TED Talk back in 2019. When he partook in this event, he flagged the idea of individuals checking out, in order to simply perform their role and be done with it does not necessarily promote a positive working environment. He used Google’s walkouts for the treatment of female staff as an example, by actively demonstrating against this, change was inspired, but prior to the action of getting up and walking off the premises would have likely been passive, or even unconscious, with staff not feeling valued, and just another cog in the capitalist machine. This, evidently, when done en-masse can be significantly detrimental to workflow and productivity in individuals or even departments. Of course, nobody wishes to have an office filled with people counting down the minutes until lunch, but, how can this be rectified.

In our previous articles we have explored the idea that engagement, as proposed by Daniel Pink derives from three channels: autonomy, mastery and purpose. This means that in order to be engaged and motivated within their company to go above and beyond what is expected of them, an employee needs to find their-self feeling like a valued member of the team, due to experiencing autonomy at work, mastery of their craft and skills and or the feeling of purpose whilst doing their job.

Learning organisations, which were explored by Michael Marquardt in his book The Learning Organisation, certainly achieves one of Pink’s criteria: the mastery of one’s craft. By their very nature, a learning organisation has to ensure that “everyone in the organisation continuously learning, and they learn from the problems or the challenges that are in front of them either as individuals or a group.”

A learning organisation, having placed their values onto learning over anything and everything else has to have the capacity to understand that “actions or results are only short-term, and they do not necessarily continue”. This means that the expectations of progress reviews needn’t be as tangible, or stressful, because instead of showing figures which may not reflect the efforts that you have put into your work over the last quarter, you can explain that although the results of your work may not appear to be great, it has been a learning curve. Exploring these channels of what you can learn from your mistakes and failings in the corporate world, in a space where learning is encouraged, will likely further improve engagement as employees can explore these ideas without fearing their contracts being terminated after making a mistake.

Therefore, changing your company’s vision, and focusing on allowing your employees to learn, will likely improve their engagement, because, it is, allowing the people in a team to hone their skills by gaining a greater understanding of their role, of the company, of how to solve problems and produce high-quality products and services. It may not be the only solution, but is certainly viable.

For further reading on engagement in the workplace, you can read The Agile Works’ articles: Pink & White: Engagement At Work and, Backbiting & Disengagement. If you wish to explore the ideas of a learning organisation in greater depth, we have explored the five subsystems of a learning organisation in our article: Learning To Be A Learning Organisation?

Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra, The Agile Works (, is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.

He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.

The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.

To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address:

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