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Strategic Fund Development: Building Profitable Relationships That Last, Third Edition by Simone P. Joyaux

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The Learning Organization

This great business theory changed my professional life. For that reason, I include the learning organization as a central component of an organization’s internal relations.

Effective organizations are always learning, and the best fundraisers lead the crusade for learning. They know that organizational health and fund development depend on how well (and how quickly) the organization learns.

A learning organization is a way of operating. Learning means enhancing one’s capability—as an individual and as an organization—to achieve desired results. Peter Senge17 (1990) notes that for organizations to excel in the future, they must tap people’s willingness and ability to learn. Through learning, we continually re-create ourselves.

There are two types of learning, adaptive and generative. Effective organizations use both.

1. Adaptive learning means you modify existing operations, thereby producing an altered concept.

2. Generative learning means you create something previously unknown from current experience and information. Generative learning is the most stressful for an organization because it is unfamiliar.

Becoming a learning organization is no easy task. To do so, Senge says, you must build an infrastructure that includes five specific disciplines: personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning, and systems thinking (Exhibit 3.4). Woven together, these disciplines create the learning organization.

Exhibit 3.4 Five Disciplines of a Learning ...

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