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Subject Education  Systems Pages 2 Style APA


Key Features of a Learning Organization

Organizations are required to continuously learn and evolve to keep up with the changing dynamics of the internal and external environment. According to Peter Senge, learning organizations are dynamic systems that constantly scrutinize the environment and continuously adapt and improve themselves to keep up with the trends (Su, 2017). Such organizations thrive by building reliable feedback loops that maximize the effectiveness of the learning initiatives. It is upon this backdrop that this paper details the key features of learning organizations.

                Peter Senge emphasize that organizations should create an environment where people are continuously encouraged to expand their thinking capacity to introduce new products, processes, and achieve results that are desirable. There is a need for organizations to have systems that encourage expansive and new patterns of thinking that nurture collective aspirations without binding the employees to fixed ways of doing things (Su, 2017). To create such an organization, Senge proposed that organizations embrace five key features; shared vision, team learning, systems thinking, mental models, and personal mastery.

The first feature is promoting systems thinking. According to Gil, Carrrillo, and Fonseca-Pedrero (2019), this feature is the conceptual cornerstone for learning organizations. It emphasizes the need for organizations to acknowledge the interconnection between different sections and parts of the organization. In addition, it identifies organizations as complex systems made up of inter-related components. Organizations that think of themselves as systems create procedures for exchange of ideas between individuals and the different sections and components (departments). This is the case with Amazon, which has a collaborative learning culture where every employee is honored for their role in the overall performance of the organization. Similarly, different departments of Amazon work collaboratively to create joint solutions affecting the company’s supply chain.

The second feature of a learning organization is personal mastery or a mindset of lifelong learning. Holba, Bahr, Birx and Fischler (2019) explain that learning organizations require individuals with a forward thinking mindset. Such persons are committed to mastering not only themselves, but also the things around them. Employees with a lifelong learning mentality value continual growth. They focus on mastering new practical skills that help them become better people in their daily lives. This ranges from mastering hard and soft skills which enable them to develop differentiated products and deliver effective customer services. Personal learning ultimately contributes to company-wide learning. Amazon embraces this feature by paying full tuition fees for its employees to learn at the Amazon Technical Academy or the Machine Learning University. It also offers apprenticeship programs to its employees.

The third important element of learning organizations is mental modes. Senge terms mental modes as deeply ingrained assumptions, images, generalizations, and pictures that influence an individual’s understanding of the world. This feature represents the ability of individuals to understand how the world works and how best to use their mental images to improve it (Su, 2017). The key to optimizing this feature is by attracting and hiring innovative minds, creating a culture of openness, and providing resources to facilitate innovations. Amazon has strict hiring policies and a culture that encourages forward-thinking mindsets that create and pursue positive visions that benefit the organization.

The fourth element is having a shared vision. This means having a common image and view of where the organization ought to be at a future date. The vision should guide the commitment of the employees and be embraced as a personal aspiration that guides the decisions of each person in an organization (Gil et al. 2019)). Having a shared vision energizes employees to learn new skills vital in reaching the desired organizational position. The company’s vision is shaped by Jeff Bezos, who consistently sets new goals to be realized by each employee.

The fifth element is team learning. Holba et al. (2019) explain that team learning is the strategic process of creating shared avenues for further learning to improve the employee’s skills and knowledge. It is important that employees learn together and share their experiences to empower each other. The process of team learning starts with dialogue and progresses to thinking together on how best to solve organizational challenges. Amazon has encouraged team learning through the Amazon Learning platform where employees share knowledge on what they are passionate about. Some of the enriching dialogues on the platform center around international exchange programs and cross-cultural education.

In conclusion, Peter Senge identifies five key features of a learning organization. These are; shared vision, team learning, personal mastery, systems thinking, and mental models. These features can be applied in understanding the operations of Amazon and its leadership approaches.




Gil, A.J., Carrrillo, F.J. and Fonseca-Pedrero, E., 2019. Assessing a learning organization model: A teacher’s perspective. Management in Education, 33(1), pp.21-31.

Holba, A.M., Bahr, P.T., Birx, D.L. and Fischler, M.J., 2019. Integral Learning and Working: Becoming a Learning Organization. New Directions for Higher Education, 2019(185), pp.85-99.

Su, C., 2017. Learning Organization. The international encyclopedia of organizational communication, pp.1-9.

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