“Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?” asks business strategist Gary Hamel. Bill Taylor quotes Hamel in a thought-provoking article, “The Rise of the Teaching Organization” (HarvardBusiness.org, November 17, 2009). Taylor takes it a step further, stating “that the most determined innovators—the organizations with the most original ideas about how to compete and win—aren’t just committed to learning. They are just as committed to teaching.”
There’s ample evidence of that among Baldrige Award recipients. All winners are required to share information on their performance and strategies with other U.S. organizations. Many provide tours and offer workshops for interested leaders and use those workshops to identify best practices in other organizations. Several have formed consulting organizations to provide further support. They are teaching and, in the process, they are learning.
Taylor describes how Virginia Mason, a Seattle-based hospital system, became a healthcare leader by integrating the Toyota Production System. Last year, it created the Virginia Mason Institute to do what Baldrige Award recipients do: conduct tours, explain how they work, and share what they know. Its CEO, Dr. Gary Kaplan, said, “Part of our mission as a company is to help improve our industry. But the more we educate, the faster we move as well. This will spur us on, push us to keep getting better, and people will chase our taillights. Our credibility as a company is dependent on our ability to deliver results. By teaching others what we’ve learned, it forces us to keep learning.”
Organizational learning is a Baldrige core value exemplified by the learning—and teaching—of the Award recipients. You can learn from them by reading their award application summaries, available online here.