The problem of overcoming organizational barriers to learning comes up as a regular theme in discussions with those who hold responsibilities for organizational learning or knowledge management in an organization.  Based on readings, documented discussions and experience, one of the major and first problems they encounter in the process of mainstreaming learning in an organization is that “learning is almost considered a crime or an added burden rather than a behavior or way of doing things that we’re trying to encourage.”

So, if organizational learning were a crime, how would we investigate it and prevent it from happening?  Criminologists always consider 3 factors in solving a crime: (i) Motive; (ii) Means; and (iii) Opportunity (MMO).  Motive is the reason for committing the crime, means are the tools or methods used to commit the crime, and opportunity is the occasion that presents itself to allow the crime to take place.  All these three factors must be established for someone to become a suspect in a crime investigation. 

If an organization wants to prevent its team members from committing the crime of learning, all it has to do is prevent one of the 3 factors from happening.  If the organization is serious about learning prevention, it would arrange to withhold two or, better still, all three of the factors. 

Now, if an organization wants to mainstream learning in the organization, it has to make sure that all the 3 factors are present --- (i) Motive or the willingness to learn; (ii) Means or the abilities and tools used for learning; and (iii) Opportunity or the circumstances and space that make it possible to leverage the means for learning. 

And of course, the organization must have willing perpetrators to commit the crime. 


Jeremy Boglosa/PD:ODSS/September 2, 2015


  • INTRAC Reading materials on OD (2015)

  • Canada’s Primer on Learning Organization (2007)

  • Images taken from the web