Haery Sihombing

Technology in Business & Organization Perspective
By Haery Sihombing

Introduction
Uncertainty and change characterize the new business environment. Organizations require special individuals to meet the changing needs associated with this environment. In addition, the traditional methods of organizational structure and instruction should be re-examined as a result against these changes, and then the attributes of these special individuals and the organizational structure discussed by analyzing the driving force of business trends, the needed individual attributes, the fit of contrasting organizational structures, and the training of future employees

Trends in the Future Work Environment
Technological changes are the driving forces behind many future business trends. Advances in both communication and transportation have ushered the change from the Industrial Revolution to new Information Age (Milter & Stinson, 1993). As communication increases, knowledge follows closely behind it. Different people shares their thoughts and ideas and spark additional technological advances. With each new advance, business faces new opportunities and threats in the form of different procedures, new products, and new industries. Some old products are becoming obsolete, while others enhanced by the new advances. Communication allows these new technologies to be shares and known by consumers that have access to information on alternatives anywhere on the globe. Global competition is another result of technological advancement. Communication technologies and transportation methods facilitate a global market for any good in the world. Communications permits new innovations in products and production procedures through the sharing of ideas. It also keeps domestic and foreign consumers aware of new products and services that might better serve their needs. Advances in transportation and distribution have increased customer access to these goods. The net effects of these developments enable the consumer with instantaneous communication and rapid delivery of goods and services on a world basis (Milter & Stinson,1993). The result of these business trends has been an increase in the intensity of competition. Hypercompetition is the result of a new global market, technological advancements, and an informed consumer. Gone are days that a company can compete solely with domestic competitors. Advances such as internet force large and small business to compete. In addition, new markets and shortened product life cycles, as result of rapid technological advancements will increase competitive forces. Companies compete based on upon an understanding of the customer, speed, cost, and innovation. Quality, however, is no longer a competitive advantage. It is a prerequisite for the opportunity to compete (Milter & Stinson,1993). Innovation appears to be the only basis of long-term competitive advantage. “Core competencies are built through a process of continuous improvement and enhancement that may span a decade or longer, a company that has failed to invest n core

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competence building will find it very difficult to enter an emerging market…”(Prahalad & Hamel,1990). Innovation, however, promotes an environment of change and ambiguity. Competitive forces coupled with innovation promote a great deal of change within the industry and the economy. Organizations demand rapid response to new market and industry developments. The result is a flatter organizational structure that encourages decisions made at the lower levels. Individuals at the point of action possess more knowledge of the relevant factors, and therefore, make quicker and better decisions. These organizational requirements demand an individual with certain attributes.

Necessary Skills within the Future Business Environment
Current organizational demands require individuals with a holistic understanding of the business and the environment in which it operates. The uncertainty and rapid rate of change within the current business environment requires decisions making at the point of action (Milter & Stinson, 1993). Therefore, individuals within the organization require a broad understanding of the business, its goal, competencies, and needs n order to make decisions consistent with the organization’s strategy. An organization that expects localized action by individuals without this knowledge, risk a commitment of time and resources to endeavors inconsistent with its broader concerns. Organizational flexibility, however, requires an additional individual characteristic. Individual flexibility is a necessity in today’s environment. The ability to learn, adapt, and apply knowledge are the primary prerequisites to flexibility. Continuous and self-directed learning expands the individual’s abilities and value to the company. During this tumultuous period of change within the business environment, organizations must be able to meet these challenges. An organization, however, is made of individuals. The organization’s individuals must therefore be able to change and grow. So, learning can be conducted, however, on an individual basis with the necessity of a holistic perspective and the need for coordination of the different units within the organization collaboration becomes a key to the leaning experience. “Team learning is vital because teams, not individuals, are the fundamental learning unit in modern organizations” (Senge,1990). Collaboration, or learning in teams, allows the sum to become greater than he whole. In other words, the team is able to use each individual’s strengths to the fullest while compensating for individual weakness so that there are synergies. The free flow of ideas allows people to find insights not otherwise achievable as an individual. It is also consistent with the need for individuals with a holistic perspective. Teams can be composed of individuals fro many different parts of an organization. Each individual reflects the different needs and concerns of their organizational unit. Any decision or learning that take place will incorporate these different needs. All learning takes place within the learning environment. It is with this in mind that we must examine the learning organization and its relationship with the business environment identified.

The Learning Organization in Context of the Business Environment
If there is one thing that business environment demand of an organization, it is flexibility. Flexibility to change with environmental conditions and customer demands, flexibility to innovate and improve operations, and flexibility to expand operations in new directions are all necessary for success. “The real source of advantage are to be found in management’s 2

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ability to consolidate corporate wide technologies and production skills into competencies that empower individual business to adapt quickly to changing opportunities…..Core competencies is communication, involvement, and a deep commitment to working across organizational boundaries.“(Prahalad & Hamel,1990). Communication and collaboration within the organization is imperative in adjusting o environment demands quickly and effectively. The traditional ‘top down’ management style is ill suited to deal with these demands. A centralized authority hat dictates the direction of the organization with standardization and formal controls cannot possibly react quickly enough to all environmental changes. The traditional structure lacks the speed and flexibility to meet the demands f the modern business environment. The learning organization, however, addresses these needs. The learning organization focuses on customer wants as the focus of its operations. Management’s main duties are to align business processes so that they are consistent with these wants. Success was not by merely profit and loss, but rather, profits are the result of the value the market places on the organization’s ability to provide customer value. It depends upon a horizontal decentralized system that delivers customer value with speed and flexibility. To define the company direction is not only by a shared organizational vision that driven by customized processes and controls. Cause, these characteristics are supporting the new demands of a highly competitive environment rapidly changing and redefined by technology. (Collins & Porras, 1994,1996)

Constructing a Learning Organization
There are five disciplines needed in order to implement the learning organization as a vehicle to address challenges facing an organization, such as personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning, and system thinking Personal Mastery Personal mastery involves constantly defining and redefining our personal vision and then being able to see current reality clearly. Organizations are comprised of individuals, and therefore, an organization cannot learn and grow if its individuals are not willing to do so. They are needed personal mastery so that the organization’s individuals are motivated to act and rise above the reactive mental mind set. Encouraging personal mastery is the cornerstone to developing a learning organization. Once the individuals of a company have made the commitment to learning and personal growth, they must examine their mental models (Collins & Porras, 1994) Mental Models “Mental models are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action” (Senge,1990). These assumptions, however, should be examined closely for validity and accurateness. Examining mental models is necessary to determine if our perceptions are a reflection of reality. This continuous process does not allow for standardized practices, but rather it encourages customized methods that are not limited by paradigms. New and innovate methods are encouraged and evaluated. These are mental models often examined in a group or team atmosphere.

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Team Learning Team learning is the collaborative effort of individuals to learn and make decisions. The unit is more effective hat the sum of its parts. A dialogue takes place where the team achieves dramatic results and the individuals grow at astounding rates as well. Individuals from different areas of the company guarantee that all concerns of the business addressed and that a ‘win-win’ decision is the result that the typical ‘win-lose’ decisions common to traditional practices. In this manner, individuals develop the skills and abilities necessary to see the larger picture beyond individual perspectives (Senge,1990) Shared Vision All of these efforts are guided by a shared vision of the organization. Management dose not dictate this vision, but rather management identifies it. It requires a genuine commitment by the organization’s individuals that is not possible with visions ‘sent down from the top’. This common commitment replaces the traditional practice of control. It is necessary for organizational direction and coordination under the organizational learning system. It gives direction to he actions of every individual and team within organization (Senge,1990) Systems Thinking The final discipline is systems thinking. System thinking binds these disciplines into an ensemble. It focuses on challenges that face an organization and responds in a proactive manner that deals with the root problem rather than the symptom. It examines the business process and determines if it is sufficient to meet the organization and customer’s needs. Because the ability to face threats in this manner depends upon the other four disciplines, then each of the other four disciplines are required in system thinking. They are required to deal with challenges effectively and permanently (Collins & Porras, 1994, 1996)

The Role of the CEO
In this organizational model, the leader is not the central authority that acts on the assumption that employees are powerlessness and inept. And therefore, the leadership are based on building an organization where the individuals have every opportunity to grow and contribute their talents and skills. In this organizational model, leaders primarily act as designers and teachers. Effective organizational design is often unnoticed primarily because it operates well. It is when it operates poorly that heroic efforts of a ‘leader’ are required. The challenge for leaders is to design an organizational system that integrates policy, strategy, and systems with the learning disciplines (Senge, 1990). In this manner, policy, and strategy allow personal growth, individual and organizational learning, and a common vision to shape them. It is a system hat allows for the needs of the individuals and organization. Another capacity of leadership within the learning organization is acting as a teacher. The leader’s efforts are to help lower management think on four levels of interpreting reality. The four levels are event, patterns of behavior, systemic structures, and purpose stories. Lower management typically interprets events based upon events and patterns of behavior, but this analysis is largely reactive in nature and centered on short-term solutions. The leader’s role is to expand the context in which decisions made to incorporate the larger picture. At the systemic structure level, leaders encourage others to consider how different parts of the organization interact. The ‘purpose story’ pt decisions n the context of whether they are consistent with the organization’s larger purpose of existence. It is in this manner that a

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leader encourages a holistic perspective of the organization and its operations among middle management where localized decisions made.

Relationship between Problem Based Learning and Traditional Teaching
The traditional approach type to education that based upon the acquisition of knowledge is a teacher-centered approach that encourages dependence and passivity. It often seeks to divide subjects into disciplines without examining how they are interrelated with other disciplines. It seeks to remove the knowledge from the manner in which it acquired. This approach to education is inconsistent with the needs of the modern work environment and those of the learning organization. (Milter&Stinson,1993) Both the learning organization and the business environment stress the importance of flexibility and speed in meeting environmental and consumer demands. It requires an individual who will actively determine what the knowledge needed, acquire that knowledge, and apply it to the challenges that face them. The modern organization requires localized decisions at the point of action that are consistent with company goals and efficiencies. This requires a holistic understanding of the business across many different business disciplines. The traditional method emphasizes a passive learning method where the individual need not determine the adequacy of heir knowledge or even consider the decisions in the context of larger issues. It removes the individual from personal growth and he process of learning entirely. It is impossible to instruct individuals in every bit of knowledge that will be necessary I the future, and yet the products of traditional teaching are ill equipped to supplement their learning and adjust to new demands of the company and therefore the new demand placed upon themselves. Problem based learning is an active process motivated by the learner to determine what information is needed, acquire hat information, and then apply that knowledge using higher order reasoning skills (Barrows, 1992). This is identical to the requirements of the learning organization and the modern business environment. The problem based learning process attempts to simulate the skills and abilities that will be needed. That is why problem based learning is the preferred method of instruction.

Conclusions
It is apparent the high degree of ambiguity and change present in the business environment requires the reorganization of many traditional companies. The learning organization stresses continuous innovation, and therefore, continuous change. It is in this context that we see that he organization is largely dependent upon he individuals that comprise it. Innovation must come from the creative, learning, and deductive powers o its individuals. However, much of the potential of individuals stifle by the controls imposed by traditional hierarchy. The developing of five learning disciplines is in order to release the full potential of these individuals. Only in this manner will enable organizations hope to weather the storm of Hypercompetition. Old rigid ways become obsolete and irrelevant to consumers. Even the mightiest oak would fall to those winds of change. It becomes apparent that traditional methods of education are also obsolete. An organization is only as valuable as its parts, and therefore, and individual is only desirable relative to the value they can create.

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Reference
1. 2. 3. 4. Barrows, H. S., (1992) The Tutorial Process, revised edition, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. Collins, J., and Porras, J.I., (1994) , Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, New York:HarperBusiness Publishers Collins, J., and Porras, J.I., (1996), Building Your Company's Vision, Harvard Business Review, Vol 68, September-October, pp.65-77 Milter, R.G., and Stinson, J.E, (1993), Educating Leaders for The New Competitive Environment, in Gijselaers, G., Tempelaar, S., Keizer S. (Eds.), Educational Innovation In Economics and Business Administration: The Case of Problem-Based Learning, London: Kluwer Academic Pubs. Prahalad, C.K. and Hamel, G (1990), The Core Competence of The Corporation, Harvard Business Review, Vol 68, May-June, pp.79-91 Senge, P. (1990), The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, New York: Currency Doubleday

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