Experimenting with self-organised learning for organisational growth : a person-centred approach
This thesis records my professional search for a management model which will harness the fill capabilities of people in organisations to the achievement of the organisations, goals. This search has taken place in the context of the lost Office in which I have spent my working life. The key event in this search was my introduction to Self-Organised Learning (S-O-L) in 1984, during the Centre for the Study of Human Learning's S-O-L action research project on supervisory and managerial effectiveness. My survey of the literature in the fields of management, learning and psychology has prompted me to identify the need for a more person-centred approach to management. The survey focuses on 5 key issues, the motivation of people to contribute to the achievement of organisational goals, responsibility and control, assumptions or myths about people, attitudes towards people, and learning for continuous improvements. I have followed the action research paradigm in four main research projects: (i) a trial of S-O-L in leading Read Post Office in 1995/86; (ii) the use of S-0-L in the Parcel Sort Centre near leading between 1906 and 1990; (iii) a major Management Development and Productivity Improvement Programme in the Parcel Sort Centre in 1990. (iv) further use of S-O-L in the Parcel Sort Centre near Reading in 1991 and 1992. In the research I have used the key S-O-L tools, the Learning Conversation and the Personal Learning Contract, and I have deployed my on approach to people management which is based on trust, openness, support and encouragement. The action research results have been evaluated on a multi-perspective basis taking account of the benefits to: participating managers both as individuals and as teams; the organisation; myself, as a manager, action researcher and person. Included in the evaluation are the results of evaluation conversation held with members of my management team at the Parcel Sort Centre. These are presented in the form of Personal Learning Biographies which address the learner's own as well as others' evaluation. A major outcome of my research is the development of a Person-Centred Model of Organisational Growth. Together the action research results and the model highlight my conclusion that, as managers and trainers, we are failing to release the potential of people in organisations to learn and grow and thereby fully participate in the achievement of organisational goals. We are not developing effective personal and group relationships based upon the motivation theories of Maslow and Berzberg, McGregor’s Theory Y and Rogerian concepts. The thesis demonstrates that the systematic practice of Learning Conversations on-the-job in a variety of work based contexts transforms the attitudes of people towards work and empowers them with learning focused skills and competencies, which enable them to work more productively and effectively in individuals and as a team to meet organisational goals. This is a mutually beneficial process, enhancing the powers of the individual and the objective demands (productivity, quality of service and cost effectiveness) of the organisation. More than this, the S-O-L approach creates a structured, systematic Learning Environment which proactively encourages change and development in ways which can sustain individual development and organisational growth. This thesis identifies move of the hidden mythologies and constraints which need to be deconstructed and reconstructed in the support environment during the change process of individual and organisational growth.