Summary of Designing the Smart Organization

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Roland Deiser, founder of the European Corporate Learning Forum, makes informed, interesting points about all aspects of learning in this intriguing, useful book. Some of his charges against “traditional” learning may seem like straw man attacks that he sets up just to knock them down, but his objectives are clear. For instance, he criticizes classroom learning as distinct from the real world – and removed from ethical consideration and action – in order to say that it should be the opposite. Likewise, some of his distinctions among levels of learning (such as “political” or “social” learning) impel analysis, as he says, but may not matter as much in practice. Such caveats aside, much of what Deiser offers is exciting. He starts with a multistage theoretical overview of learning, especially learning in the corporate environment, then moves on to discuss 10 cases studies. Each of these differs wildly from the next, demonstrating evocative possibilities and challenges in corporate learning. Readers are sure to find inspiration and possible models in these case studies. getAbstract recommends Deiser’s book to CEOs, trainers, HR personnel and other executives who want to foster learning.

About the Author

Roland Deiser is founder and executive chairman of the European Corporate Learning Forum. He is a senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School.



The Paradigm Shift in Learning

To succeed or even survive your organization must be able to learn quickly and change fundamentally. The overall context of business operations is undergoing “disruptive change.” Some of this change is political – for example, the world is still dealing with the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001 – and some is economic, but most of it is technological. As more of the global economy becomes information-driven, “knowledge-based” organizations are on the rise. This requires new business models. Companies must now emphasize “core competencies,” as each organization’s “periphery” becomes more important. You must educate that outer edge of your corporate community and encourage it to feed its new perceptions back to the organization’s core. Most assumptions about what learning is, how it occurs and what constituency it should focus on are outmoded. People once saw learning as an intellectual, rational, classroom-based process. That needs to shift. The truest learning is “context-dependent,” knowledge gained through dealing with new experiences and perspectives, and weaving a “social fabric.” Boundaries are essential – not as limits, but as markers that...

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