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Building and Leading Resilient Teams: Module 7


Module 7: Enhance the organization’s ability to change and compete by supporting organizational learning (part 2).

Organizations that cannot learn are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Gaining a competitive advantage is hard. Maintaining a competitive advantage is even harder. To survive and compete over time, organizations must be willing and able to learn and change. In fact, without learning, there can be no change. This is true for individuals, teams, and organizations of all types. And just like individuals and teams, when an organization bounces back from adversity, learning is how it adapts and grows. Resilient organizations are learning organizations. In learning organizations, leaders at all levels build and lead resilient teams.


This module consists of two “at home” assignments (6 hours) that must be completed prior to the facilitated discussion (1-3 hours). Completing the preparatory assignments is essential for engaged participation in the facilitated discussion.

Assignment 1. Learn the following key terms and ideas. Knowing these key terms and ideas is essential to understanding the concepts that support each leader task in this module. (0.5 hours)

Key Terms and Ideas


Assignment 2. Reflect on your unique leader/follower experience with each of the leader tasks and concepts below. Consider ALL the reflection questions, prepare notes, and be ready to discuss during the facilitated discussion. The recommended reading is provided to help you gain a better understanding of the leader tasks and concepts. The reading will also prompt critical reflection on your leader/follower experience. (5.5 hours)

Note to Students and Instructors: The recommended reading for each leader task is updated routinely. Articles added in the last 30 days are marked (new). Instructors may assign additional reading or relevant videos at their discretion.

Leader Tasks and Concepts

3. Foster knowledge emergence.

Knowledge emergence is the creation of new knowledge at the individual or team level, followed by recognition and integration of that knowledge into practice. The organization has not fully “learned” until the new knowledge is codified into the organization’s plans, policies, processes, or procedures.

New knowledge is created in organizations as individuals and teams learn from their experience. Knowledge creation produces new ideas for improvement and innovation. The front-line workers and supervisors that interact the most with the organization’s products, services, and customers are often the best source of new ideas.

Leaders at all levels in an organization should encourage and reward creativity. Creativity is the ability to develop original ideas, options, or possibilities. Leaders sometimes dismiss a new idea for improvement and innovation because it still needs work. Instead, leaders should get involved and help develop the idea into something actionable if possible.

Leaders can foster knowledge emergence by challenging the status quo. Status quo is the current or present condition; the way things usually are. Leaders should ask themselves and their teams; “Is this actually working?” and “Is this the best we can do?”.

Leaders should identify and encourage knowledge catalysts, especially those in front-line leadership roles. A knowledge catalyst is an intellectually curious person that routinely seeks knowledge from a variety of sources to improve individual and collective understanding.

Recommended Reading:

Making Creativity and Innovation Happen

Where Does Your Innovation Live?

Insights Vs. Organizations

5 Reasons Creativity Gets Crushed at Work

Are you Sitting Comfortably with a Culture of Experimentation?

Your Company can Improve Innovation Outcomes by Thinking Bigger

6 Ways to Remove Organisational Barriers to Innovation

How to Get Past Just Telling People to Change Their Behavior


4. Ensure knowledge diffusion.

Knowledge diffusion is the sharing and transfer of knowledge throughout an organization. When new knowledge is integrated into practice in one part of the organization, leaders must ensure that other parts of the organization adopt those same practices.

Knowledge diffusion is difficult when it requires individuals and teams to build new mental models. Even though the new “way of doing things” has proven effective elsewhere in the organization, leaders should expect resistance to change. When leaders personally endorse new practices, diffusion is more likely.

A knowledge network is a system of connected people and tools that enable sharing and transfer of knowledge. Knowledge networks, especially those supported by technology, are essential for knowledge diffusion.

A community of practice is a group of people bound together by what they have learned through mutual interest and engagement in a particular activity. In the world of work, communities of practice are everywhere and we all belong to one or more.

Communities of practice are defined by the knowledge they share, most of which is tacit. Tacit knowledge is subjective knowledge gained from personal experience that is stored in a person’s memory. Communities of practice provide on-the-job training.

Communities of practice are especially effective at transferring knowledge because communities of practice engage in dialogue across traditional organizational boundaries.

Although communities of practice are mostly informal and self-organizing, they are quite effective at managing knowledge in organizations. Organizations can influence the development and effectiveness of these communities by providing people with the time and resources they need to actively participate in them.

Knowledge management in an organization is the process of collecting, organizing, analyzing, and sharing knowledge so that it’s accessible to employees. Lessons learned databases are an example of a knowledge management system.

Recommended Reading:

Introduction to Communities of Practice

FAQ about Communities of Practice

The Complete Guide to Building Employee Knowledge in the Workplace


Facilitated discussion. Be prepared to discuss your experience with each of the leader tasks and concepts above. The facilitated discussion is the key to successful learning because it ensures you have a thorough understanding of applicable factual (what), conceptual (why), and procedural (how) knowledge relevant to each leader task.


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