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Five Barriers to Effective Learning in Organizations

Charles Jennings argues that “learning and development activity is sub-optimal to the extent that it provides little value to participants and their organisations”. He then goes on to detail five barriers leaders need to think about “when starting out to transform their learning operations”. A colleague at University of Manitoba used to state that early change initiatives requires reformers to “walk through open doors” rather than trying to break through walls. This concept is reflected in this post as well. Change – especially systems-level change – is difficult. If people are not interested, or don’t see a need, the best developed plans will fail. The problem is that most people who are trying to enact change are inherently impatient and impervious to the daily mental drubbing that rigid organizational structure generates. Which makes this quote from Terry Anderson relevant to corporations, not only universities: “why geologists are so over represented in University governance? They are the only ones who really understand the speed of change in these institutions!!”


  1. Terry Anderson’s quote rings true, George. I sat on an academic committee some years ago when, in reply to a suggestion I made for a 3-year implementation plan, a crusty old professor from Oxbridge commented “but not so fast, Charles. You’re talking about 0.3 of a decade here”. It was only half-intended as a joke..

    Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 2:37 am | Permalink
  2. Jon K. wrote:

    Jennings seems to tackle a lot of the same issues that Peter Senge does in the Fifth Discipline… the second chapter “Does Your Organization Have a Learning Disability” may have been a jumping off point for him.

    Friday, April 9, 2010 at 7:50 am | Permalink