Learning for Sustainability

Whether and how organizations can implement sustainability is one of the most burning questions currently being asked by managers and stakeholders alike. In recent years, developments in technology, deeper understanding of market expectations, as well as environmental and social challenges, and personal reflection of practitioners on the role of business has fundamentally challenged our previous strategies and behaviors.

In organizational learning for sustainability we need organizations in which people can truly talk to each other, are motivated, can inspire others, and also commonly seek effective solutions to ambiguous situations.

Sustainability [...] too many people hear it as‚ sustaining‘ the world we have now, whereas I really mean fomenting a revolution.

Donella H. „Dana“ Meadows
Figure 1: Designing Future

Organizational ”future-ability” represents a particular challenge to the learning capability of an organization. “Future-ability” refers to the organization’s capacity to design and execute robust strategies that draw upon a wide range of organizational resources to flourish in a complex, dynamic environment. Many initiatives in the field of sustainability focus on improving technical aspects (eco-efficiency, etc.). However, I am mainly concerned with promoting non-technical solutions (e.g., innovative business models and intelligent forms of cooperation).

Sustainability is a challenge to the organizational learning capability

Organizational learning for sustainability calls for the conscious design of inquiring and learning processes across not only divisional or corporate boundaries, but also in the environment beyond the traditional business boundaries. Management must move beyond the myth of perpetual stability (optimization) and embrace the concept of innovative uncertainty (innovation), which has increasingly gained importance. The main questions are:

  • How much stability does a social system (organization) require in order to be able to act sustainably, and how much uncertainty is necessary to enable learning and change?
  • How can the potential synergy of stability and instability be facilitated? How should intelligent forms of cooperation be designed, ensuring that the participants learn to recognize the overall systems structure and are able to integrate their different interests and needs?
  • What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for successful change?
Organizational Learning Capability
Figure 2: Balancing Uncertainty and Stability

I look forward to establishing a relationship with you and providing support through trainings, consulting advice, and research on your learning journey to becoming a flourishing organization.