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Recommended Readings: Leadership and Managerial Effectiveness

 

In our personal life, experience is often the best teacher. Not so in corporate life. After a major event- a product failure, a downsizing crisis, or a merger, many companies stumble along, oblivious to the lessons of the past. Mistakes get repeated.

A useful tool in this context is the learning history, a written narrative of a company's recent critical event, nearly all of it presented in two columns. In one column, relevant episodes are described by the people who took part in them, were affected by them, or observed them. In the other, learning historians - trained outsiders and knowledgeable insiders- identify recurrent themes in the narrative, pose questions, and raise "undiscussable" issues. The learning history forms the basis for group discussions, both for those involved in the event and for others who also might learn from it. This tool based on the ancient practice of community story telling can build trust, raise important issues and transfer knowledge from one part of a company to another.