Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Learning theory to governance practice: Creating, drawing from shared vision

Shared vision not only shapes and transforms nonprofit governance, it also drives truly meaningful board learning to feed that work.

Peter Senge's quote, from The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization, didn't ping the theoretical radar as I analyzed months of data from my case study exploring learning in a nonprofit board setting

The reason may be obvious to readers following other posts this summer. By the time I sat down to report on those findings, I'd found the clear connection between that work and the community of practice framework. Once that happened, other adult learning theories and sources melted away - at least in my mind and my computer hard drive.

As I revisit Senge's quote above - and the one below - today, I have new appreciation for what he describes. Having a common vision can energize organizational learning and feed the processes that make it generative thinking.


The board I studied embedded the organization's mission, and the work that fed it, in routine discussions and activity. I believe that expanded members' need to expand that understanding, which remained at a level that increased their potential for generative learning. Their nonprofit's mission - their purpose - was a living component of their governance activities.

  • In what ways does your board create a common vision that not only keeps members focused on the task at hand but has the potential to foster excitement and commitment for learning?
  • What steps can your board take to increase that kind of experience?
  • To build greater meaning into their learning and their work?

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