The Organizational Learning Cycle - Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a learning friendly process according to Wiklund and Wiklund (2002), they point out that improvement without learning is impossible. An organizational learning cycle can be identified, which is similar to the PDSA cycle, which is the basis for DMAIC. Dixon (1994) described such a cycle.

The Organizational Learning Cycle (Dixon, 1994)

  • Experiences need to be spread throughout the organization in order to generate learning.
  • Reflection, at this higher level, requires the integration of the experience into an organizational context.
  • To create shared concepts and mental models collective interpretation of the contextualised experience takes place.
  • Action is required to test the analysis, which underpins the interpretation.

Organizational learning can take place at a number of levels; it can apply to small teams (such as Six Sigma project teams), departments or the organization as a whole. This can account for the apparent inconsistencies in behaviour and ethos between departments in the same organization. The models and behaviors, which form the essence of the departmental culture, are the results of learning mechanisms that have taken place over time in those departments.


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