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The learning organisation (LO) is both a concept and a particular methodology within the larger domain of organisational development (OD). To fully appreciate the premises of LO, it is necessary to fall back on the main premises of OD, beginning with the view of the organisation as an open system. Many of the established concepts of systems science as applied to organisational systems–such as system robustness, system intelligence, and system proactivity– have a direct bearing on the capacity for continuous learning in the organisation. Moving on from concepts to action, an organisation needs a set of working practices to acquire the characteristics of a learning organisation. One particularly useful ‘gateway’ for the LO process is a comprehensive performance management system that compels the organisation’s membership to re-examine ideas of performance and the assumptions about organisational processes underlying management practices. The gateway follows the action-research paradigm and appears well suited to non-profit development NGOs.

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