Published on 2012/11/01

Differentiating Data

Research focused on reinventing the company will lead to all areas of an organization having the vision to redesign and rethink their processes, leading in many cases to improved efficiency.

This is the fourth article in Dearing’s series on the Learning Organization. Yesterday’s article discussed the value of learning from experience. Today’s article looks at the value that a research department can bring to a learning organization.

Revolutionary Research

Learning to be better through research that reinvents the company.

The most important inventions that will come out of the corporate research lab are new organizational architectures and new technology. Research departments must do more than just product development; in order to keep pace with rapid changes in technology and cope with unstable business environments, they must prototype new work practices as well as new technologies and products. The imperative is to develop new applications for technology that support naturally occurring “local innovation” at all levels of the enterprise. There is also a need to experiment with new techniques supporting “co-production” of technological and organizational innovations, not only between departments and service areas, but with a company’s customers as well.

Any enterprise, no matter what the business, need to master development of effective new org architectures and work practices that foster local innovation throughout.

Successful organizations understand how people really work, how technology helps people perform more effectively, and how to create an environment conducive to continual innovation: an inclusive culture of continuous improvement on the part of all employees, no matter what their position or authority.

This occurs via rethinking and redesigning traditional high-control, top-down and authoritarian organizational assumptions, and it could tap into needs of customers they are not even aware of yet. This rethinking and redesigning comes from research centered on reinventing the company.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of Dearing’s five-part series on the learning organization looks at a few best practices for developing professional intellect.

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Harvard Business School Press (1998), On Knowledge Management, Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, Boston USA

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Readers Comments

Rennee Smith 2012/11/01 at 11:21 am

I couldn’t agree more with the author about the need to get rid of top-down, hierarchical organizational structure within businesses, and not too long ago I read a really inspiring article describing how one company did just that (

By flattening out the hierarchy and organizing employees into teams where they worked together, negotiating their own job titles, roles, and group dynamic, and not for anyone. They stopped doing tasks because they had to and started doing them because they were motivated and energized by their team. What better way to encourage initiative and cross-pollination than to tear down the walls and liberate your employees from their so-called “silos”? Bottom-line: don’t let anyone tell you that flattening out hierarchical structure is too messy and not possible. More and more working examples are popping up everywhere.

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