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Pattern: Learning Organization

An organization skilled at acquiring information, creating insight, and transferring knowledge can tolerate risk with confidence and solve difficult problems through experimentation and innovation

A company is launching a cloud native transformation and needs to create a new culture in the organization that supports innovation and accepts uncertainty. In the new and complex world of cloud native technology, there is no “right” way to go about acloud native transformation.

In This Context

Organizations migrating from Waterfall or Agile paradigms to cloud native don’t typically have the skill set for working in a highly uncertain and ambiguous environment:open-mindedness, a willingness to experiment and tolerate risk, and above all the ability to enter into the transformation process without a detailed map.Traditionally, before starting large projects managers would require all the answers and full work estimations. Then once the project was approved there would be no real possibility to adjust course. Such bureaucratic habits reinforce stability and reduce risks by eliminating change, but they conflict with the need to innovate and lead to re-creating the same old monolithic systems and organization, only now with newer tools.
• Teams are coming in with proficient, rather than creative, skills.
• Innovation requires the ability to tolerate risk and ambiguity.
• The process of innovation depends on failures and improvements over time.
• Few people are trained to think or work in a creative, open-ended way.

Therefore

Take an honest look at your current culture. Build in the willingness to accept ambiguity and risk as part of your daily organizational process.Rather than demanding a full detailed plan with clear estimation upfront, embrace Dynamic Strategy and help teams to structure effective experiments. Make sure there is enough Psychological Safety to allow people to take risks.
• Leaders need to lead by example and show everyone that it’s safe to try new things even if they fail.
• Consider your company’s current relationship to risk and change. Does experimentation require permission? Is failure considered automatically “bad”?
• Treat change as an opportunity rather than a cause for anxiety.

Consequently

Teams are co-creating solutions and challenging each other with Productive Feedback as they experiment their way toward the right answers.
+ People learn how to act autonomously while being willing to fail—and then mine what went wrong so they can learn from it.
- Training for cognitive resilience and creativity is possible, but it requires investment and work.