In July 2021, Juha Törmänen, Raimo P. Hämäläinen and Esa Saarinen published an article introducing a new tool for measuring organisational learning and success. The tool, called Organizational Systems Intelligence (OSI scale), focuses on the individual’s experience of organisational culture and is based on the concept of Systems Intelligence. Systems Intelligence takes into account the comprehensive interaction between individuals and their environments.
“A systems intelligent organisation is successful. By its nature, a systems intelligent organisation is also one that is capable of learning and development. The employees of a systems intelligent organisation have models of behaviour and action, which enable learning,” Törmänen says in a Finnish News Agency STT press release.
Employee perceptions key in guiding organisational development
It’s widely accepted that organisations should invest in employee development, but employee perceptions and experiences don’t always guide the direction of organisational development. If the goal is to create (and maintain) a learning organisation, paying attention to employee perceptions and experiences is essential. Doing so also helps deliver better customer service.
In their study, Törmänen, Hämäläinen and Saarinen examined how well the new measurement tool could explain organisational success. The results were positive — organisations with higher scores were more successful in their sector than those with lower scores. What’s particularly noteworthy about the tool is that the language used in the questionnaire focuses on the individual. The aim is to enable anyone to easily assess learning and Systems Intelligence in their organisation — not just executives or others in managerial positions.
Eight factors of organisational success
With the help of the tool, an individual can assess their organisation using 32 questions. The questions are sorted into eight categories, each representing a factor the researchers identified as a cornerstone of learning organisations in 2014. In the first part of this blog series, I will look at the first four factors.
The factors are:
1. Systemic Perception
4. Spirited Discovery
6. Wise Action
7. Positive Engagement
8. Effective Responsiveness
How to use the Organisational Systems Intelligence scale: The scale ranges from 1 to 10 (1 = almost never, 10 = almost always). The +/- signs indicate the direction of the answers. If a statement with a + sign receives a large score, the direction is good and should be reinforced. If a statement with a – sign receives a high score, the direction is not good and should be addressed.
Assessing learning efficiency is difficult but essential
Many organisations struggle with measuring learning because it’s not easy to describe qualitative learning. But despite the challenge, measuring is important, and each organisation will find suitable measurement tools by reflecting on its values. (Download our report on the culture and practices of continuous learning in Finnish workplaces. Please note the report is only available in Finnish). The tool introduced here provides eight research-based factors that enable everyone to actively develop their organisation’s culture. But a score alone doesn’t provide enough information, so it’s also important to give employees the chance to elaborate on each point to gain a broader understanding.
Learning organisations need people with a learning mindset. The success factors highlighted in this study are fundamentally linked to how the people in an organisation see their environment and themselves as part of it. Learning is based on trust, humanity, dialogue, and a shared growth mindset. These are worth investing in more than mere training or keeping tabs on how many people attend each event.
Curious about how Systems Intelligent you are? Fill in this questionnaire and find out: http://salserver.org.aalto.fi/sitest/en/
You can also gain more Systems Intelligence by playing cards. The Systems Intelligence card deck by Topaasia helps increase a team’s ability to function and succeed in its surroundings.
Johanna Riippi is a Coach, Facilitator, and Service Designer
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